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Overawing  the  en&my. 
The  Paul  Jones  and  the  JEfowon. 

(See  p*ffe  1*.) 


COPYRIGHT,  1899,  BY 







THE  history  of  the  United  States  navy  is  so  in- 
timately connected  with  that  of  our  privateers  that 
the  story  of  one  would  be  incomplete  without  a  full 
record  of  the  other.  In  each  of  our  wars  witli  Great 
Britain  many  of  the  captains  in  the  navy  assumed 
command  of  privateers,  in  which  they  frequently 
rendered  services  of  national  importance,  while  the 
privateersmen  furnished' the  navy  with  a  large  num- 
ber of  officers,  many  of  whom  became  famous.  In 
our  struggle  for  independence  more  than  sixty 
American  craft  armed  by  private  enterprise  were 
commanded  by  men  who  had  been,  or  soon  became, 
officers  in  the  regular  service;  and  in  more  than 
one  instance,  notably  that  of  the  officers  and  men 
of  the  Ranger — Captain  John  Paul  Jones5  famous 
ship,  then  commanded  by  Captain  William  Simpson 
— almost  the  entire  ship's  company  of  a  Continental 
cruiser  turned  to  privateering.  Many  of  our  most 
distinguished  naval  officers  have  pointed  with  pride 
to  their  probationary  career  in  privateers.  The  mere 
mention  of  such  names  as  Truxtun,  Porter,  Biddle, 
Decatur,  Barney,  Talbot,  Barry,  Perry,  Murray, 
Rodgers,  Cassin,  Little,  Robinson,  Smith,  and  Hop- 
kins will  show  how  closely  related  were  the  two  arms 
of  our  maritime  service. 

In  his  History  of  the  United  States  Navy  the 
author  endeavored  to  show  that  our  maritime 
forces  were  a  powerful  factor  not  only  in  attain- 
ing American  independence,  but  in  maintaining  it. 





A  few  general  statements  will  show  that  in  both 
wars  with  England  our  privateers  were  a  most 
important  if  not  predominating  feature  of  our  early 
sea  power.  In  our  first  struggle  the  Government 
war  vessels — built,  purchased,  or  hired — numbered 
forty-seven,  or,  including  the  flotilla  on  Lake  Cham- 
plain,  sixty-four  vessels  of  all  descriptions,  carry- 
ing a  total  of  one  thousand  two  hundred  and  forty- 
two  guns  and  swivels.  This  force  captured  one 
hundred  and  ninety-six  vessels.  Of  the  privateers 
there  were  seven  hundred  and  ninety-two,  carrying 
more  than  thirteen  thousand  guns  and  swivels. 
These  vessels  captured  or  destroyed  about  six  hun- 
dred British  vessels.  In  the  War  of  1812  the  regular 
navy  of  the  United  States  on  the  ocean  numbered 
only  twenty-three  vessels,  carrying  in  all  five  hun- 
dred and  fifty-six  guns.  This  force  captured  two 
hundred  and  fifty-four  of  the  enemy's  craft.  In  the 
same  period  we  had  five  hundred  and  seventeen  pri- 
vateers, aggregating  two  thousand  eight  hundred 
and  ninety-three  guns,  which  took  no  fewer  than  one 
thousand  three  hundred  prizes. 

The  following  table  will  show,  in  a  most  strik- 
ing manner,  the  importance  of  the  part  taken  by  our 
privateers  in  the  struggle  for  independence: 

Comparative  List  of  American-armed  Vessels  (1776-178$). 

CLASS  OF  0&X7I8EB8. 
























Comparative  Number  of  Ghwa  carried  ly  the  above  Vessels. 









Continental  .  ,  














ft  7ft  "J 


Looking  at  it  from  a  financial  point  of  view,  we 
find  that  the  money  value  of  the  prizes  and  cargoes 


taken  by  Government  cruisers  during  the  Revolu- 
tion, allowing  an  average  of  thirty  thousand  dollars 
for  each,  to  be  less  than  six  million  dollars,  and, 
allowing  the  same  average  for  the  privateers,  we 
have  a  total  of  eighteen  million  dollars.  In  the  sec- 
ond war  with  Great  Britain  we  find,  on  the  same  basis 
of  calculation,  the  money  value  of  Government  prizes 
to  be  six  million  six  hundred  thousand  dollars,  while 
that  of  the  privateers  was  thirty-nine  million-dol- 
lars. Taking  the  entire  maritime  forces  of 

United  States  —  both  navy  and  privateers  —  into  - 
sideration,  we  find  that  about  eight  hundred  vesab? 
were  captured  from  the  English  in  the  war  form 
dependence,  valued  at  twenty-three  million  ^ight 
hundred  and  eighty  thousand  dollars,  while  the  pris- 
oners could  not  have  been  short  of  sixteen  thou- 
sand; and  in  the  second  war  against  Great  Britain 
the  value  of  the  prizes  was  forty-five  million  six  hun- 
dred thousand  dollars,  while  there  were  no  fewer 
than  thirty  thousand  prisoners.  Against  these 
figures  we  have  some  twenty-two  thousand  prison- 
ers taken  by  our  land  forces  during  the  Revolution, 
and  about  six  thousand  in  the  War  of  1812. 

To  the  American  people,  who  for  generations 
have  been  taught  that  our  independence  was 
achieved  almost  entirely  by  the  efforts  of  our  land 
forces,  and  that  the  War  of  1812  was  brought  to  a 
creditable  close  principally  by  the  operations  of  our 
armies,  these  statements  of  the  comparative  values 
and  amount  of  work  done  on  sea  and  land  will  prove 
a  matter  of  surprise.  Every  reader  of  American 
history  is  familiar  with  the  capture  of  Stony  Point 
and  its  British  garrison  of  five  hundred  and  forty- 
three  men;  of  Ticonderoga,  with  its  garrison  of  fifty 
men;  of  the  battle  of  Trenton,  with  nearly  one  thou- 
sand prisoners.  But  it  is  doubtful  if  many  have 
heard  of  the  capture  of  three  hundred  British  sol- 
diers, with  their  colonel,  in  two  transports,  by  the 
little  State  cruiser  Lee,  of  the  two  hundred  High- 

I  PREFACE.  1775-1815. 

landers  and  twenty  army  officers  of  the  Seventy- 
first  Begiment  by  our  Andrea  Doria,  of  twenty-four 
British  army  officers  by  Captain  John  Burroughs 
Hopkins'  squadron,  of  the  two  hundred  and  forty 
Hessians  captured  by  the  privateer  Mars,  of  the 
company  of  dragoons  taken  by  the  privateer  Massa- 
chusetts, of  the  sixty-three  Hessian  chasseurs  made 
prisoners  by  the  privateer  Tyrannicide,  of  the  capture 
colonel,  four  lieutenant  colonels,  and  three 
by  the  privateer  Vengeance,  and  of  the  capture 
<ofone  hundred  soldiers  by  the  privateer  Warren. 
all  know  that  Washington  took  about  one  thou- 
men  at  Trenton,  that  Gates  made  some  eight 
thousand  prisoners  at  Saratoga,  and  that  the  Ameri- 
cans and  French  secured  about  seven  thousand  at 
Yorktown;  but  it  is  not  so  generally  known  that 
in  the  same  period  fully  sixteen  thousand  prisoners 
were  made  by  our  sea  forces.  While  fewer  than 
six  thousand  prisoners  were  taken  by  our  land  forces 
in  the  War  of  1812,  fully  thirty  thousand  were  taken 
by  our  sea  forces. 

A  careful  review  of  British  newspapers,  period- 
icals, speeches  in  Parliament,  and  public  addresses 
for  the  periods  covered  by  these  two  wars  will  show 
that  our  land  forces,  in  the  estimation  of  the  British, 
played  a  very  insignificant  part,  while  our  sea  forces 
were  constantly  in  their  minds  when  "the  Ameri- 
can war  "  was  under  discussion.  When  England  de- 
termined to  coerce  the  refractory  Americans,  she 
little  thought  that  she  was  inviting  danger  to  her 
own  doors.  Her  idea  of  an  American  war  was  a 
somewhat  expensive  transportation  of  German  mer- 
cenaries across  the  Atlantic,  where  the  dispute 
would  be  settled  in  a  wilderness,  far  removed  from 
any  possible  chance  of  interference  with  British  in- 
terests in  other  parts  of  the  world.  The  British  mer- 
chant looked  forward  to  the  war  with  no  small  de- 
gree of  complacency;  for,  in  spite  of  the  provisions 
of  the  Navigation  Acts,  which  were  designed  espe- 

1776-1815.  POTENCY  OF  OUE  SEA  POWER.  xi 

cially  to  protect  him  from  colonial  competition,  he 
keenly  felt  American  rivalry  for  the  carrying  trade 
of  the  world.  It  would  cost  several  million  pounds 
annually  to  send  Hessians  to  America,  but  this  would 
be  more  than  offset  by  the  British  merchant  secur- 
ing the  colonist's  share  of  commerce. 

This  was  the  view  generally  taken  by  Englishmen 
before  hostilities  began.  But  had  they  anticipated 
that  American  cruisers  and  privateers  would  cross 
the  Atlantic  and  throw  their  coasts  into  continual 
alarm;  that  their  shipping,  even  in  their  own  har- 
bors, would  be  in  danger;  that  it  would  be  unsafe 
for  peers  of  the  realm  to  remain  at  their  country 
seats;  that  British  commerce  would  be  almost  an- 
nihilated; that  sixteen  thousand  seamen  and  eight 
hundred  vessels  would  be  taken  from  them — they 
would  have  entered  upon  a  coercive  policy  with  far 
greater  hesitancy.  Without  her  ships  and  sailors 
England  would  be  reduced  to  one  of  the  least  of  the 
European  powers,  and,  while  she  could  afford  to  lose 
a  few  thousand  Hessians,  the  loss  of  her  maritime 
ascendency  touched  her  to  the  quick.  It  was  this 
attack  on  England's  commerce  that  struck  the  mor- 
tal blows  to  British  supremacy  in  America — not 
Saratoga  nor  Yorktown. 

Dr.  Franklin  early  saw  the  great  importance,  our 
marine  forces  would  play  in  this  struggle.  Writing 
from  Paris,  May  26,  1777,  to  the  Committee  on  For- 
eign Affairs,  he  said:  "  I  have  not  the  least  doubt  but 
that  two  or  three  of  the  Continental  frigates  sent 
into  the  German  Ocean,  with  some  less  swift-sailing 
craft,  might  intercept  and  seize  a  great  part  of  the 
Baltic  and  Northern  trade.  One  frigate  would  be 
sufficient  to  destroy  the  whole  of  the  Greenland  fish- 
eries and  take  the  Hudson  Bay  ships  returning." 
Not  having  the  frigates  available,  the  Marine  Com- 
mittee sent  the  cruisers  Reprisal  and  LeaAngton;  and 
in  June  these  little  vessels,  with  the  10-gun  cutter 
Dolphin,  made  two  complete  circuits  of  Ireland,  occa- 

xii  PREFACE.  1777, 

sioning  the  greatest  alarm,  and  after  securing  fif- 
teen prizes  they  returned  to  France,  where  the  prizes 
were  sold  to  French  merchants.  The  proceeds  thus 
realized  afforded  much  needed  pecuniary  assistance 
to  the  American  commissioners  who  were  pleading 
the  cause  of  the  colonists  in  European  courts.  The 
two  celebrated  expeditions  of  Captain  John  Paul 
Jones  are  equaled  in  the  annals  of  marine  history 
only  by  the  daring  and  success  of  our  privateers. 

So  great  was  the  alarm  occasioned  by  the  exploits 
of  the  American  maritime  forces  that  Silas  Dean, 
writing  to  the  Marine  Committee  in  1777,  said:  "  It 
effectually  alarmed  England,  prevented  the  great 
fair  at  Chester,  occasioned  insurance  to  rise,  and 
even  deterred  the  English  merchants  from  shipping 
goods  in  English  vessels  at  any  rate  of  insurance.  So 
that  in  a  few  weeks  forty  French  ships  were  loaded 
in  London  on  freight — an  instance  never  before 
known."  Not  only  did  the  British  merchants  ask 
for  the  protection  of  war  ships  for  their  merchant- 
men on  distant  voyages,  but  they  even  demanded 
escorts  for  linen  ships  from  Ireland  to  England.  "  In 
no  former  war,"  said  a  contemporary  English 
newspaper,  "  not  even  in  any  of  the  wars  with  France 
and  Spain,  were  the  linen  vessels  from  Ireland  to 
England  escorted  by  war  ships." 

The  following  letter,  written  from  Jamaica  in 
1777  by  an  Englishman,  shows  what  havoc  was  cre- 
ated in  British  commerce  by  our  privateers: "  Within 
one  week  upward  of  fourteen  sail  of  our  ships  have 
been  carried  into  Martinique  by  American  priva- 
teers." Another  Englishman,  writing  from  Grenada 
in  the  same  year,  says:  "Everything  continues  ex- 
ceedingly dear,  and  we  are  happy  if  we  can  get  any- 
thing for  money,  by  reason  of  the  quantity  of  vessels 
taken  by  the  Americans.  A  fleet  of  vessels  came 
from  Ireland  a  few  days  ago.  From  sixty  vessels 
that  departed  from  Ireland  not  above  twenty-five 
arrived  in  this  and  neighboring  islands,  the  others, 

1776-1778.  PARLIAMENT  INVESTIGATES.  xiii 

it  is  thought,  being  all  taken  by  American  priva- 
teers. God  knows,  if  this  American  war  continues 
much  longer  we  shall  all  die  with  hunger.  There 
was  a  ship  from  Africa  with  four  hundred  and  fifty 
negroes,  some  thousand  weight  of  gold  dust,  and  a 
great  many  elephant  teeth — the  whole  cargo  being 
computed  to  be  worth  twenty  thousand  pounds — also 
taken  by  an  American  privateer,  a  brig  mounting 
fourteen  cannon."  So  loud  were  the  protests  of  the 
British  mercantile  classes  against  carrying  on  the 
American  war  that  every  pressure  was  brought  to 
bear  on  Parliament  for  its  discontinuance. 

It  will  be  interesting  to  note  that  in  all  the  memo- 
rials presented  to  Parliament  the  arguments  used 
to  bring  about  peace  with  America  was  the  unprec- 
edented destruction  of  British  commerce.  On  the 
6th  of  February,  1778,  Alderman  Woodbridge  testi- 
fied at  the  bar  of  the  House  of  Lords  that  "  the  num- 
ber of  ships  lost  by  capture  or  destroyed  by  Ameri- 
can privateers  since  the  beginning  of  the  war  was 
seven  hundred  and  thirty-three,  whose  cargoes  were 
computed  to  be  worth  over  ten  million  dollars.  That 
insurance  before  the  war  was  two  per  cent,  to  Amer- 
ica and  two  and  one  half  to  North  Carolina,  Jamaica, 
etc.,  but  now  that  insurance  had  more  than  doubled, 
even  with  a  strong  escort,  and,  without  an  escort, 
fifteen  per  cent." 

William  Oreighton,  who  also  appeared  before 
their  lordships,  said  that  "the  losses  suffered  by 
British  merchants  in  consequence  of  captures  made 
by  American  privateers  up  to  October,  1777,  could 
not  be  short  of  eleven  million  dollars."  In  1776  Cap- 
tain Bucklon,  of  the  16-gun  privateer  Montgomery, 
from  Ehode  Island,  reported  that  the  rate  of  insur- 
ance in  England  had  risen  to  thirty  per  cent,  on  ves- 
sels sailing  in  convoy,  and  to  fifty  per  cent,  for  those 
sailing  without  convoy.  Bucklon  made  this  report 
on  his  return  from  a  cruise  in  the  English  Channel. 

When  the  War  of  1812  was  about  to  break  out 

xiv  PREFACE.  1812. 

the  English  carried  a  vivid  recollection  of  the  dam- 
ages our  maritime  forces  had  occasioned  in  the  first 
war,  and  seemed  to  be  more  concerned  with  what 
American  sea  power  might  do  in  the  impending 
war  than  what  our  land  forces  could  do.  The  Lon- 
don Statesman  said:  "  Every  one  must  recollect  what 
they  did  in  the  latter  part  of  the  American  war.  The 
books  at  Lloyd's  will  recount  it,  and  the  rate  of 
assurances  at  that  time  will  clearly  prove  what  their 
diminutive  strength  was  able  to  effect  in  the  face 
of  our  navy,  and  that  when  nearly  one  hundred  pen- 
nants were  flying  on  their  coast.  Were  we  able  to 
prevent  their  going  in  and  out,  or  stop  them  from 
taking  our  trade  and  our  storeships,  even  in  sight  of 
our  own  garrisons?  Besides,  were  they  not  in  the 
English  and  Irish  Channels  picking  up  our  homeward- 
bound  trade,  sending  their  prizes  into  French  and 
Spanish  ports,  to  the  great  terror  and  annoyance  of 
our  merchants  and  shipowners? 

"  These  are  facts  which  can  be  traced  to  a  period 
when  America  was  in  her  infancy,  without  ships, 
without  money,  and  at  a  time  when  our  navy  was 
not  much  less  in  strength  than  at  present.  The 
Americans  will  be  found  to  be  a  different  sort  of 
enemy  by  sea  than  the  French.  They  possess  nauti- 
cal knowledge,  with  equal  enterprise  to  ourselves. 
They  will  be  found  attempting  deeds  which  a  French- 
man would  never  think  of,  and  they  will  have  all  the 
ports  of  our  enemy  open,  in  which  they  can  make 
good  their  retreat  with  their  booty.  In  a  predatory 
war  on  commerce  Great  Britain  would  have  more  to 
lose  than  to  gain,  because  the  Americans  would  re- 
tire within  themselves,  having  everything  they  want 
for  supplies,  and  what  foreign  commerce  they  might 
have  would  be  carried  on  in  fast-sailing,  armed  ves- 
sels, which,  as  heretofore,  would  be  able  to  fight  or 
run,  as  best  suited  their  force  or  inclination." 

Such  was  the  opinion  of  an  intelligent  English 
writer  as  to  the  potency  of  American  maritime,  en- 


terprise  in  the  pending  war.  About  the  same  time 
Mr.  Niles,  of  Baltimore,  wrote:  "How  far  will  the 
revenue  [of  Great  Britain]  be  touched  by  the  irre- 
sistible activity  and  enterprise  of  one  hundred  thou- 
sand American  seamen,  prepared  or  preparing  them- 
selves, to  assail  British  commerce  in  every  sea — to 
cut  off  supplies  from  abroad  and  forbid  exportation 
with  safety!  The  Americans  will  prove  themselves 
an  enemy  more  destructive  than  Great  Britain  ever 
had  on  the  ocean — they  will  do  deeds  that  other 
sailors  would  not  dare  to  reflect  on*  Witness  their 
exploits  in  the  Eevolutionary  War  and  at  Tripoli, 
in  which,  perhaps,  not  a  single  instance  occurred  of 
their  being  defeated  by  an  equal  force,  though  many 
cases  to  the  contrary  are  numerous.  What  part  of 
the  enemy's  trade  will  be  safe?  France,  duly  esti- 
mating the  capacity  of  America  to  injure  a  common 
enemy,  will  open  all  the  ports  of  the  continent  as 
places  of  refuge  and  deposit  for  our  privateers,  and 
all  the  fleets  of  England  cannot  confine  them  to  their 
harbors,  at  home  or  abroad.  The  British  Channel 
will  be  vexed  by  their  enterprises,  and  one  hundred 
sail  of  armed  vessels  will  be  inadequate  to  the  pro- 
tection of  the  trade  passing  through  it.  For  the 
probability  of  these  things  let  Lloyd's  lists  from  1777 
to  1783  be  referred  to.  Terror  will  pervade  the  com- 
mercial mind  and  mighty  bankruptcies  follow,  to  all 
which  will  be  superadded  the  great  privations  of 
the  manufacturers  and  the  increased  distresses  of 
the  poor." 

Toward  the  close  of  the  War  of  1812  English 
newspapers  were  full  of  articles  recounting  the  vast 
amount  of  damage  that  had  been  inflicted  on  British 
commerce  by  American  privateers.  The  master  of 
one  English  vessel,  who  hacl  been  captured  three 
times  by  American  privateers  and  as  many  times 
recaptured,  reported  that  he  had  seen  no  less  than 
ten  Yankee  privateers  in  his  wage.  In  June,  1813, 
flour  in  Great  Britain  was  Sfty-eight  dollars  a  bar* 

xvi  PBBFAOJ3.  1818-1814. 

rel,  beef  thirty-eight  dollars,  pork  thirty-six  dollars, 
and  lumber  seventy-two  dollars  a  thousand  feet. 

One  of  the  newspapers  said:  "  At  Halifax  insur- 
ance has  been  absolutely  refused  on  most  vessels, 
on  others  thirty-three  per  cent,  has  been  added  to 
the  former  premiums.  We  do  not  hear  of  the  cap- 
ture  of  but  one  privateer  for  several  weeks;  that 
was  the  Harlequin,  a  new  vessel,  elegantly  fitted,  from 
an  eastern  port.  She  was  taken  by  the  74-gun  ship 
of  the  line  Bulwark  by  a  stratagem.  The  depredation 
of  the  American  privateers  on  the  coasts  of  Ireland 
and  Scotland  had  produced  so  strong  a  sensation  at 
Lloyd's  that  it  was  difficult  to  get  policies  under- 
written except  at  enormous  rates  of  premiums. 
Thirteen  guineas  for  one  hundred  pounds  was  paid 
to  insure  vessels  across  the  Irish  Channel!  Such 
a  thing,  we  believe,  never  happened  before." 

A  number  of  meetings  of  merchants,  shipowners, 
and  others  interested  in  trade  were  held  in  Liverpool, 
Glasgow,  and  at  other  important  shipping  centers 
at  which  the  depredations  of  American  privateers 
were  deplored.   Such  a  meeting  was  held,  September, 
1814,  in  Q-lasgow  by  public  advertisement,  and  held 
by  special  requisition  on  the  Lord  Provost.    At  this 
gathering  it  was  resolved  unanimously:  "  That  the 
number  of  privateers  with  which  our  channels  have 
been  infested,  the  audacity  with  which  they  have 
approached  our  coasts,  and  the  success  with  which 
their  enterprise  has  been  attended,  have  proved  in- 
jurious to  our  commerce,  humbling  to  our  pride,  and 
discreditable  to  the  directors  of  the  naval  power 
of  the  British  nation,  whose  flag,  till  of  late,  waved 
over  every  sea  and  triumphed  over  every  rival.   That 
there  is  reason  to  believe  that  in  the  short  space 
of  less  than  twenty*four  months  above  eight  hun- 
dred vessels  have  baen  captured  by  that  power  whose 
maritime  strength  ye  have  hitherto,  impolitically, 
held  in  contempt.   Twit,  at  a  time  when  we  were  at 
t>eace  with  all  the  woi%a,  when  the  maintenance  of 


our  marine  costs  so  large  a  sum  to  the  country, 
when  the  mercantile  and  shipping  interests  pay  a 
tax  for  protection  under  the  form  of  convoy  duty, 
and  when  in  the  plenitude  of  our  power  we  have 
declared  the  whole  American  coast  under  blockade, 
it  is  equally  distressing  and  mortifying  that  our  ships 
can  not  with  safety  traverse  our  own  channels,1  that  in- 
surance cannot  be  effected  but  at  an  excessive 
premium,  and  that  a  horde  of  American  cruisers 
should  be  allowed,  unheeded,  unresisted,  and  un- 
molested, to  take,  burn,  or  sink  our  own  vessels  in 
our  own  inlets,  and  almost  in  sight  of  our  own 

"That  the  ports  of  the  Clyde  have  sustained 
severe  loss  from  the  depredations  already  committed, 
and  there  is  reason  to  apprehend  still  more  serious 
suffering,  not  only  from  the  extent  of  the  coasting 
trade  and  the  number  of  vessels  yet  to  arrive  from 
abroad,  but  as  the  time  is  fast  approaching  when 
the  outward-bound  ships  must  .proceed  to  Cork  for 
convoys,  and  when,  during  the  winter  season,  the 
opportunities  of  the  enemy  will  be  increased  both 
to  capture  with  ease  and  escape  with  impunity. 
That  the  system  of  burning  and  destroying  every 
article  which  there  is  fear  of  losing — a  system  pur- 
sued by  all  the  cruisers  and  encouraged  by  their 
own  Governments — diminishes  the  chances  of  re- 
capture and  renders  the  necessity  of  prevention  more 

From  the  foregoing  it  is  seen  that  the  English 
themselves  regarded  our  maritime  forces,  rather 
than  our  land  forces,  as  the  dominant  factors  in  both 
these  wars.  We  do  not  hear  of  any  high  municipal 
officers  testifying  at  the  bar  of  the  House  of  Lords 
as  to  the  vast  amount  of  damage  caused  by  Ameri- 
can armies,  or  as  to  the  danger  menacing  Greal 

Britain  from  any  movements  of  our  land  forces.    Wo 


1  The  italics  are  tb£  author's. 

xviii  PBEFACE.  .    1813-1814. 

hear  of  no  petitions  direct  to  the  throne  asking  pro- 
tection for  British  interests  from  our  soldiers.  We 
do  not  come  across  notices  of  meetings  held  to 
protest  against  the  ravages  caused  by  our  troops. 
On  the  contrary,  the  British  public  seemed  to  have 
ignored  our  land  forces  altogether,  or,  when  they 
were  mentioned,  it  was  only  to  speak  of  them  with 
contempt,  as  the  following  extract  from  the  Lon- 
don Times  will  show.  Speaking  of  the  Wasp-Rein- 
deer action,  it  says:  "It  seems  fated  that  the 
ignorance,  incapacity,  and  cowardice  of  the  Ameri- 
cans by  land  should  be  continually  relieved  in 
point  of  effect  on  the  public  mind  by  their  successes 
at  sea.  To  the  list  of  their  captures,  which  we  can 
never  peruse  without  the  most  painful  emotions,  is 
now  to  be  added  that  of  His  Majesty's  ship  Reindeer, 
taken  after  a  short  but  most  desperate  action  by  the 
United  States  sloop  of  war  Wasp.97 

We  do  not  find  the  English  studying  our  army 
tactics,  with  a  view  of  profiting  by  any  superior  ar- 
rangements which  American  ingenuity  and  fore- 
thought may  have  suggested;  but  we  do  find  them 
examining  most  minutely  into  the  construction  and 
discipline  in  our  war  ships,  and  frankly  acknowl- 
edging our  superiority  in  many  important  details. 
When  the  London  Times  learned  of  the  result  of 
the  Enterprise-Better  fight,  it  said:  "The  fact  seems 
to  be  but  too  clearly  established  that  the  Americans 
have  some  superior  mode  of  firing,  and  that  we  can 
not  be  too  anxiously  employed  in  discerning  to  what 
circumstance  that  superiority  is  owing."  We  do  not 
find  English  military  officers  changing  their  methods 
of  army  management  after  models  devised  by  Ameri- 
cans, but  we  do  find  the  Admiralty  adopting  Ameri- 
can naval  ideas  in  a  most  radical  and  sweeping  man- 
ner. We  introduced  24-pounders  in  our  frigates, 
which  at  first  the  ejxemy  ridiculed,  but  before  the 
war  was  over  they  \tere  compelled  to  imitate,  and 
thev  Daid  us  tha  compliment  of  building  and 

1826-1898.    AMERICAN  NAVAL  CONSTRUCTION  LEADS.         xix 

fitting  out  cruisers  on  the  " exact  lines"  of  the 
American  44-gun  frigates.  In  the  introduction  to 
a  new  edition  of  Mr.  James'  History  of  the  British 
Navy,  the  editor  remarks:  "It  is  but  justice,  in  re- 
gard to  America,  to  mention  that  England  has  bene- 
fited by  her  [America's]  example,  and  that  the  large 
classes  of  frigates  now  employed  in  the  British  serv- 
ice (1826)  are  modeled  after  those  of  the  United 
States."  Our  frigates  were  called  "terrible  non- 
descripts," and  one  of  the  English  74-gun  line  of  bat- 
tle ships  actually  sailed  from  Cadiz  for  the  North 
American  station  disguised  as  a  frigate.  The  London 
Courier  of  January  4,  1813,  notes  that  some  of  the 
most  famous  British  line  of  battle  ships — some  of 
them  having  been  under  Nelson's  orders — including 
the  Culloden,  Monarch,  Thunderer,  and  Resolution,  were 
selected  to  be  cut  down  as  frigates  to  cope  with  our 
Constitution,  President,  and  United  States. 

An  English  naval  expert,  speaking  of  the  Goliath 
(1898)  as  the  latest  and  most  powerful  battle  ship 
ever  constructed  in  Great  Britain,  says:  "It  is 
of  historic  interest  that  the  modern  ironclad,  with 
its  turrets  and  massive  plates,  had  its  root  idea  in 
the  famous  monitors  first  designed  for  the  United 
States  Government  by  Ericsson,  who  sought  to  com- 
bine invulnerability  with  very  heavy  ordnance.  The 
earliest  monitors  had  decks  almost  level  with  the 
water,  revolving  turrets,  and  cannon  that  threw 
round  shot  one  hundred  and  fifty  pounds  and  upward 
in  weight.  But  even  under  favorable  conditions  they 
could  fire  only  one  round  in  three  minutes;  and,  al- 
though that  measure  of  offensive  capacity  was  capa- 
ble of  destroying  any  other  contemporary  man-of- 
war,  it  would  be  of  no  account  at  the  present  day. 
Ericsson,  however,  gave  the  cue  to  naval  designers 
all  over  the  world,  and  his  elementary  principle  has 
only  been  developed  and  modifted  during  the  years 
that  have  elapsed."  , 

For  capturing  the  Chesapeake  Captain  Broke  re- 

ceived  a  sword  from  the  city  of  London,  the  Tow< 
guns  were  fired  in  honor  of  the  victory,  and  the  fre 
doin  of  the  city  was  presented  to  him — honors  seldo 
granted.  When  the  news  of  the  Chesapeake }s  defe; 
reached  London  Parliament  was  in  session  and  Loi 
Cochrane  was  severely  criticising  the  Government 
naval  administration  of  the  war.  Mr.  Croker  "  roi 
to  answer  him  with  the  announcement  that  the  SJia 
non  had  captured  the  Chesapeake.  This  was  receive 
with  the  loudest  and  most  cordial  acclamations  fro 
every  part  of  the  House  " — simply  because  an  En 
lish  ship  had  captured  an  American  of  equal  force. 

It  is  in  vain  that  we  search  the  English  new 
papers  for  those  expressions  of  fear  and  humiliate 
on  the  report  of  their  land  reverses  which  they  i 
freely  indulged  in  on  hearing  of  the  loss  of  the 
ships.  When  the  London  Times  learned  of  the  lo 
of  the  first  British  frigate  in  1812  it  said:  «  We  knn 
not  any  calamity  of  twenty  times  its  amount  th 
might  have  been  attended  with  more  serious  **o 
sequences  to  the  worsted  party  had  it  not  be< 
counterbalanced  by  a  contemporaneous  advanta; 
[alluding  to  Wellington's  successes  in  Spain]  of 
much  greater  magnitude.  As  it  was,  the  IOSR 
the  Guerri&re  spread  a  degree  of  gloom  through  t 
town  which  it  was  painful  to  observe." 

The  news  of  the  second  naval  defeat  waa 
first  discredited:  "There  is  a  report  that  anoth 
English  frigate,  the  Macedonian-,  has  been  captur 
by  an  American.  We  shall  certainly  be  very  ba< 
ward  in  believing  a  second  recurrence  of  such 
national  disgrace.  .  .  .  Certainly  there  was  a  th 
when  it  would  not  have  been  believed  that  t 
American  navy  could  have  appeared  upon  the  hij 
seas  after  a  six  months'  war  with  England;  mi* 
less  that  it  could,  within  that  period,  have  been  twi 
victorious.  Bed  twitmra  mutantur,"  On  the  folio 
ing  day,  when  the  news  was  confirmed,  the  Tim 
exclaimed: i€  In  the  name  of  God,  what  was  done  wi 


this  immense  superiority  of  force!"  And  the  nes 
day  it  says:  "  Oh,  what  a  charm  is  hereby  dissolved 
What  hopes  will  be  excited  in  the  breasts  of  on 
enemies!  The  land  spell  of  the  French  is  broke 
[alluding  to  Napoleon's  disastrous  retreat  froi 
Moscow],  and  so  is  our  sea  spell."  The  Londo: 
Chronicle  asked:  "  Is  it  not  sickening  to  see  that  n 
experience  has  been  sufficient  to  rouse  our  Admiral 
ty  to  take  such  measures  that  may  protect  the  Bri1 
ish  flag  from  such  disgrace." 

The  news  of  the  loss  of  the  third  British  frigate 
the  Java,  was  commented  upon  by  the  Times  as  fo] 
lows:  "  The  public  will  learn,  with  sentiments  whicl 
we  shall  not  presume  to  anticipate,  that  a  third  Bri1 
ish  frigate  has  struck  to  an  American.  .  .  .  This  i 
an  occurrence  that  calls  for  serious  reflection— thi 
and  the  fact  stated  in  our  paper  of  yesterday,  tha 
Lloyd's  list  contains  notices  of  upward  of  five  hun 
dred  British  vessels  captured  in  seven  months  b; 
the  Americans.  Five  hundred  merchantmen  an< 
three  frigates!  Can  these  statements  be  true?  An< 
can  the  English  people  hear  them  unmoved?  An; 
one  who  had  predicted  such  a  result  of  an  America] 
war  this  time  last  year  would  have  been  treated  ai 
a  madman  or  a  traitor.  He  would  have  been  told 
if  his  opponents  had  condescended  to  argue  wit] 
him,  that  long  ere  seven  months  had  elapsed  th< 
American  flag  would  have  been  swept  from  the  seas 
the  contemptible  navy  of  the  United  States  annihi 
lated,  and  their  marine  arsenals  rendered  a  hea] 
of  ruins.  Yet  down  to  this  moment  not  a  singL 
American  frigate  has  struck  her  flag." 

It  is  interesting  to  note,  in  connection  with  thi 
subject,  that  James'  History  of  the  British  Nav 
was  inspired  by  the  naval  occurrences  between  th 
United  States  and  Great  Britain:  James  first  wrot 
a  small  pamphlet,  entitled  An  Inquiry  into  th 
Merits  of  the  Principal  Actions  between  Great  Bri1 
ain  and  the  United  States.'  This  work  met  wit] 

xxii  PREFACE.  1814, 

such  encouragement  that  he  wrote  his  Naval  Oc- 
currences, of  the  Late  War  between  Great  Britain 
and  the  United  States,  a  single  octavo  volume.  The 
reception  given  to  these  two  works  induced  him 
to  write  his  History  of  the  British  Navy,  which  for 
more  than  half  a  century  has  been  regarded  as  the 
standard  work  on  that  subject — the  result,  as  the 
author  himself  declares,  of  the  naval  operations  of 
the  United  States  maritime  forces.1 

In  summing  up  the  results  of  this  war,  the  Times 
for  December  30, 1814,  says:  "We  have  retired  from 
the  combat  with  the  stripes  yet  bleeding  on  our 
backs.  Even  yet,  however,  if  we  could  but  close  the 
war  with  some  great  naval  triumph,  the  reputation 
of  our  maritime  greatness  might  be  partially  re- 
stored. But  to  say  that  it  has  not  suffered  in  the 
estimation  of  all  Europe,  and,  what  is  worse,  of 
America  herself,  is  to  belie  common  sense  and  uni- 
versal experience.  *  Two  or  three  of  our  ships  have 
struck  to  a  force  vastly  inferior!'  No,  not  two  or 
three,  but  many  on  the  ocean  and  whole  squadrons 
on  the  lakes,  and  the  numbers  are  to  be  viewed  with 
relation  to  the  comparative  magnitude  of  the  two 
navies.  Scarcely  is  there  an  American  ship  of  war 
which  has  not  to  boast  a  victory  over  the  British 
flag;  scarcely  one  British  ship  in  thirty  or  forty  that 
has  beaten  an  American.  With  the  bravest  seamen 
and  the  most  powerful  navy  in  the  world,  we  retire 
from  the  contest  when  the  balance  of  defeat  is  so 
heavy  against  us."  And  it  may  be  added  that  this 
was  written  before  the  Times  had  heard  of  the  cap- 
ture of  the  Gyane  and  the  Levant  by  the  Conrtitution 
— the  most  brilliant  naval  victory  of  the  war — or 
the  disabling  of  the  Endymion  by  the  President,  or 
the  capture  of  the  Nautilus  by  the  Peacock,  or  the 

1  Lord  Nelson's  first  prizWas  an  American  privateer,  and  his  first 
command,  the  14-gun  whoonfyfrichiribrook,  was  captured  at  sea  by  an 
American  privateer  shortly  after  poison  had  left  her. 

1856-1899.  A  HISTORY  OF  PRIVATEERS. 

capture  of  the  Penguin  by  the  Hornet,  or  the  disas- 
trous and  humiliating  repulse  of  armed  boats  from  a 
British  squadron  by  the  American  privateer  G-eneral 
Armstrong  at  Fayal. 

From  the  foregoing  it  will  be  seen  that,  so  far  as 
the  British  were  concerned,  it  was  our  maritime 
forces,  rather  than  our  armies,  that  played  the  domi- 
nating part  in  both  the  war  for  our  independence  and 
in  the  War  of  1812.  The  object  of  all  wars  is  to 
operate  on  the  mind  of  the  enemy  to  the  extent  of 
bringing  him  to  the  desired  terms.  That  our  mari- 
time forces  were  vastly  more  efficient  in  this  effort 
is  seen  by  the  unbiased  testimony  of  the  English 

Such  being  the  importance  of  the  part  played  by 
our  sea  power  in  these  two  wars,  it  is  fitting  that  our 
privateers  should  be  properly  recognized  in  the  his- 
tory of  our  navy,  inasmuch  as  they  formed  the  larg- 
est section  of  our  maritime  forces  in  those  struggles. 
It  is  not  the  author's  purpose  to  defend  privateer- 
ing. The  Declaration  of  Paris  in  1856  sealed  the 
fate  of  that  style  of  warfare,  so  far  as  civilized  coun- 
tries are  concerned;  for,  although  the  United  States 
and  Spain  did  not  ratify  the  Declaration,  yet  the 
course  pursued  by  both  nations  in  the  Hispano- 
American  War,  and  the  propositions  made  by  our 
delegates  to  the  Peace  Conference  at  The  Hague 
in  1899,  showed  plainly  enough  that  they  had  re- 
nounced old-time  privateering.  Privateering — in 
its  proper  form,  however — exists  to-day.  The  essen- 
tial feature  of  privateering  is  commerce  destroying. 
Our  commerce  destroyers  of  the  navy  to-day,  like  the 
Columbia,  Minneapolis,  and  Olympia,  take  the  place  of 
our  early  privateers,  and  are  capable  of  doing  the 
work  far  more  effectively,  while — as  we  have  seen 
in  the  case  of  the  Olympia  at;  Manila — they  are 
equally  efficient  when  needed  f  o»  the  regular  service. 

There  are  many  well-meaning  people  in  the 
United  States  who  believe  that  the  old  style  of  pri- 

PREFACE.  1779-1813. 

vateering  should  be  maintained.  A  few  facts  will 
show  the  fallacies  of  their  arguments.  One  of  the 
great  defects  in  old-time  privateering  was  lack  of 
organization.  Each  ship  was  a  free  lance,  at  liberty 
to  roam  the  seas  as  she  willed,  having  no  central 
organization  or  concert  of  movement.  The  Olympia, 
showed  what  commerce  destroyers  can  do  when 
properly  governed.  There  are  a  few  instances  where 
our  early  privateers  rendered  assistance  to  the  regu- 
lar navy;  but  then  there  are  more  instances  where 
they  were  a  positive  hindrance.  Had  the  Penobscot 
expedition  in  1779  been  organized  with  the  Govern- 
ment vessels  and  privateers  under  one  management, 
it  might  have  resulted  in  a  glorious  victory  instead 
of  a  disastrous  defeat. 

There  have  been  many  instances  of  American  pri- 
vateers running  away  from  each  other  and  throwing 
overboard  their  guns,  under  the  impression  that  they 
were  in  the  presence  of  an  enemy,  because  there  was 
no  efficient  code  of  signaling  between  the  regular 
war  craft  and  the  privateers,  or  among  the  private 
armed  craft  themselves.  In  one  case  the  American 
privateer  Anaconda  maintained  a  action  with  the 
United  States  cruiser  Commodore  Hull,  Lieutenant 
Newcomb,  near  Boston,  in  which  the  American  com- 
mander and  several  men  were  seriously  wounded. 
On  March  9,  1813,  Master-Commandant  Arthur  Sin- 
clair, of  the  Argus,  by  mistake  had  an  action  with 
the  privateer  jFo#,  Captain  Jack,  of  Baltimore,  in 
Chesapeake  Bay.  Sinclair  says:  "  In  consequence  of 
silencing  her  I  ceased  my  fire,  believing  that  she  had 
struck;  but  although  she  fired  on  me  first,  after 
being  told  who  we  were  and  never  would  answer 
who  she  was,  yet  so  much  did  I  fear  that  it  was  some 
of  my  imprudent,  headstrong  countrymen  that  I 
took  every  opportunity  to  spare  her,  and  to  try  and 
find  out  who  she  w$s.  I  much  fear  they  wore  all 
lost,  as  she  could  not\ave  a  whole  boat  left,  and  we 
found  pieces  torn  out  o\her  by  our  shot  ten  or  twelve 

1818-1899.    A  NEW  FIELD  OF  HISTORICAL  RESEARCH.       XXV 

feet  long  on  the  shore  the  next  morning.  I  judge 
her  to  be  upward  of  two  hundred  tons  by  the  9J-inch 
cable  and  the  seven-hundred  or  eight-hundred  weight 
anchors  we  got  next  day.  She  was  crowded  with 
men,  as  we  could  see  by  the  light  of  her  guns.  I 
was  sure  she  would  sink,  as  we  were  within  one 
hundred  and  fifty  yards  of  her  and  I  pointed  myself 
seven  long  18-pounders,  double  and  trebled  shotted, 
just  amidships  between  wind  and  water  and  could 
plainly  hear  the  shots  strike  her." 1 

Many  such  instances  could  be  cited  to  show  that 
privateering  as  practiced  in  our  early  wars  is  unde- 
sirable. Commerce  destroying,  under  the  exclusive 
control  of  the  navy,  is  the  privateering  of  to-day,  and 
in  this  form  is  a  legitimate  and  most  potent  factor 
in  warfare. 

In  venturing  upon  a  history  of  American  priva- 
teers the  author  realizes  that  he  has,  in  truth,  en- 
tered upon  a  new  and  most  difficult  field  of  historical 
research.  No  complete  record  of  American  priva- 
teers has  ever  been  published;  the  nearest  ap- 
proach being  Captain  George  CoggeshalPs  History 
of  American  Privateers,  which  is  limited  to  the  oper- 
ations of  our  amateur  cruisers  in  the  War  of  1812, 
and,  aside  from  the  highly  interesting  narrative  of 
the  part  Captain  Coggeshall  played  as  commander 
of  the  David  Porter  and  the  Leo,  is  far  short  of  a 
standard  history.  In  writing  his  History  of  the 
United  States  Navy,  the  author  had  the  official 
reports  and  other  reliable  records  on  which  to  base 
his  work;  but  in  attempting  a  history  of  American 
privateers  he  found  himself  entirely  cut  off  from 
this  solid  basis,  and  was  dependent  on  the  frag- 
mentary and  scattered  records  which  are  to  be  found 
in  the  periodicals  of  that  day  and  on  the  private 
letters,  logs,  and  traditions  that  have  been  pre- 
served by  the  descendants  of^ur  privateersmen. 

1  Sinclair,  in  a  private  letter. 

xxvi  PREFACE.  1899. 

These  valuable  records  have  been  scattered  all  over 
the  United  States,  and  had  it  not  been  for  the  gener- 
ous co-operation  of  the  persons  having  them  in  their 
possession  this  work  never  could  have  been  given 
in  its  present  complete  form. 

The  author  desires  to  acknowledge  the  assistance 
he  has  received  in  the  preparation  of  this  work  from 
the  Hon.  Henry  Cabot  Lodge,  United  States  Senator 
from  Massachusetts;  from  Rear- Admiral  Montgom- 
ery Sicard,  U.  S.  N.;  from  Captain  Arent  Schuyler 
Crowninshield,  U.  S.  N.;  and  from  Eear- Admiral 
Francis  John  Higginson,  U.  S.  N.,  and  his  cousin 
James  J.  Higginson,  of  New  York.    To  Miss  Annetta 
O'Brien  Walker,  a  lineal  descendant  of  Captain  Jere- 
miah O'Brien  of  Revolutionary  fame,  the  author  is 
indebted  for  many  valuable  details  concerning  the 
first  sea  fight  in  the  struggle  for  independence,  which 
have  thrown  much  light  upon,  and  rectified  some  in- 
accuracies relative  to,  that  memorable  fight.     In- 
teresting data  bearing  on  our  early  privateersmen 
have  been  received  from  Bowden  Bradlee  Crownin- 
shield, of  Boston;  Charles  Thomas  Harbeck,  of  New 
York;  Benjamin   I.   Cohen,   of  -Portland,   Oregon; 
Samuel  C.  Clarke,  of  Marietta,  Georgia;  Thomas 
Wentworth   Higginson,   of  Cambridge,   Massachu- 
setts; Arthur  Curtiss  Stott,   of  Stottsville,   New 
York;  Edward  Trenchard,  of  New  York;  Franklin 
Byre,  of  Philadelphia;  Charles  Albert  Eazlett,  of 
Portsmouth,  New  Hampshire;  Otis  Burr  Dauehy,  of 
Chicago;  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Samuel  Dodge,  of  Portsmouth, 
New  Hampshire;  John  C.  Crowninshield,  of  Andover, 
Massachusetts;  W.   H.   Osborne,   of  Boston;   and 
Judge  Addison  Brown;  of  New  York. 

The  officers  of  the  following  historical  societies 
and  libraries  have  given  the  author  every  possible  aid 
in  prosecuting  his  researches:  John  Robinson,  Secre- 
tary of  the  Salem  P^abody  Academy  of  Science;  Rob- 
ert S.  Rantoul,  President  of  the  Essex  Institute, 
Salem,  Massachusetts^  William  T,  Peoples,  of  the 


Mercantile  Library,  New  York;  Amos  Perry,  Secre- 
tary of  the  Khode  Island  Historical  Society;  and  Or- 
ville  Burnell  Ackerly,  Secretary  of  the  Suffolk  His- 
torical Society,  of  Kiverhead,  New  York.  Valuable 
records  and  suggestions  have  also  been  received  from 
Professor  Wilfred  H.  Munro,  of  Brown  University, 
Providence,  Ehode  Island;  Eipley  Hitchcock,  of 
New  York;  William  Edward  Silsbee,  a  grandson  of 
Nathaniel  Silsbee,  who  commanded  the  privateer 
Herald  in  her  fight  against  the  French  letter  of 
marque  Gloire  in  1800,  and  who  afterward  became 
a  colleague  of  Daniel  Webster  in  the  United  States 
Senate.  The  author  will  be  glad  to  receive  any  fur- 
ther facts  of  interest  bearing  on  our  privateers  for 
insertion  in  future  editions  of  this  work. 

E.  S.  M. 







Origin  of  privateering— Its  introduction  in  the  United  States— First 
English  privateersmen— Exploits  of  Captain  "Wright — "  Gentle- 
men sailors" — Distribution  of  prize  money— Character  of  the 
early  privateersmen — Americans  raise  privateering  to  a  higher 
plane— Fleet  sailing— Development  in  private  cruisers  .  .  8-31 



Daring  of  privateersmen — Danger  of  private  cruisers  becoming  top- 
heavy— Enmity  of  British  officers  against  privateersmen— Pen- 
sioning privateersmen  22-27 



First  American  sea  fight — Little  distinction  between  the  early  priva- 
teersmen and  pirates — Pirates  in  Charleston,  South  Carolina — 
Steed  Bonnett— Buccaneers  on  the  New  England  coast— Captain 
William  Kidd— Murder  of  Lieutenant  Hough  by  privateersmen 
in  New  York— American  privateers  in  the  French  war— Many 
captures 28-42 




First  overt  acts  of  resistance  to  British  authority  in  America  on  sea 
— Demonstrations  against  the  St.  JbAn/and  Liberty— Attack  on 




the  Gaape—The  "  Boston  Tea  Party  "—Affair  of  the  Margaretta 
—  Capture  of  that  craft—  Subsequent  careers  of  Jeremiah  and 
John  O'Brien—  Career  of  the  Hannibal  and  Hioernia  —  Washing- 
ton sends  out  cruisers—  Death  of  Major  M£nzies  —  Vessels  seized 
by  the  English,  177^1776  ........  43-68 



Careers  of  the  Yankee  and  Yankee  Hero—  First  privateers  from  Mas- 
sachusetts—Maryland and  New  York  privateers  —  Early  essay  of 
privateers  from  Pennsylvania  —  Philadelphia  builds  gunboats  — 
Privateers  from  New  Jersey  and  New  Hampshire  .  .  .  69-78 



Barney  and  Robinson  go  a-privateering—  The  Pomona's  hard  fight  — 
Barry  and  Murray  on  private  ventures—  Truxtun  and  Decatur 
also—  McNeil,  Waters,  Little,  and  Porter  command  privateers  79-90 



Early  career  of  Talbot—  Daring  attack  on  the  Asia  in  a  fireship—  At 
Fort  Mifflin—  Building  flatboats  in  Rhode  Island—  Fitting  out 
the  Hawk—  Successful  attempt  against  the  Pigot—  Designs 
against  the  Renown,  —  Remarkable  success  of  the  Argo  —  Her 
many  captures—  A  desperate  battle—  Talbot  commands  the  Gen- 
eral WoMngton  —  Captured—  Exchanged  —  Return  to  Amer- 



Marvelous  development  of  privateering—  The  Hazard  and  Bunker 
Hill—  Careers  of  the  Vengeance  and  General  &ancoek~The  Provi- 
dence, True  American,  and  Black  Prince  >  113-119 



Building  the  Al6xcmdw**$wuring  a  complements—  Sherburne  ships 
in  tiie  Greyhound—  A  capture—  Detailed  in  the  prize  crew—  The 
prize  recaptured—  Amon^a  half-savage  people—  Hardships  as  a 
prisoner-Sails  in  the  Ductots  of  Cumberland—  Wreck  of  that 

CONTENTS;  xxxi 


cruiser— Return  to  the  old  prison— Sails  for  England  in  the 
Fairy— Harsh  treatment— Captain  Yeo's  character— In  Old  Mill 
Prison — Return  to  America 120-129 


'  THE  WORK  OP  1779. 

Reverses  of  our  armies— Successes  on  the  high  seas— The  General 
Arnold  and  the  General  Stark— The  Protector-Admiral  Duff 

battle — The  Hilernia  and  Holker— Fight  against  an  Indiaman 

Taking  a  king's  ship 180-187 



Haraden  an  ideal  privateersman — His  career  in  the  Tyrannicide— 
Takes  command  of  the  General  Pickering— His  "impudent" 
capture  of  the  Golden  Eagle — Falls  in  with  the  Achilles— Hara- 
den's  skillful  maneuver— Holds  his  advantage  over  his  antago- 
nist—Drives off  the  Achilles  and  again  captures  the  Golden 
JSagU— Haraden's  many  prizes — His  singular  summons  to  an 
English  commander  ........  138-147 



Barney's  capture  by  the  English— In  the  prison  ships  at  New  York— 
His  rough  treatment  by  the  townsfolk — Great  sufferings  in  the 
Yarmouth— Arrival  at  Old  Mill  Prison— Treatment  at  that  place 
— Determination  to  escape — A  ruse— A  bold  dash  for  liberty — 
Disguised  as  a  fisherman  Barney  sails  for  France  in  an  open  boat ' 
—Recaptured— Return  to  Plymouth— Again  free— Narrow  es- 
cape from  recognition— A  new  disguise— Travels  to  Exeter  and 
thence  to  Holland — Sails  in  the  South  CaroUna~-T$QX£\j  ship- 
wrecked— Puts  into  Coruffa— A  mistaken  attack  on  Spanish 
ships— Return  to  America 148-166 



How  Dr.  Drowne's  diary  was  preserved— Sails  in  the  Hope— A  fear- 
ful storm— Distressing  sickness— Clear  weather  again — A  £20- 
000  prize — A  chase — Dreadful  suspense  before  battle— The  cap- 
ture—Fear of  losing  the  prize— Joy  on  'regaining  the  home 
port - 167-176 

xxxii  CONTENTS. 




Capture  of  the  General  Washmgton  by  the  British— Taken  into  their 
service  as  the  General  Monk — Her  valuable  services  under  her 
new  masters— Philadelphia  merchants  fit  out  the  Eyder  Ally — 
The  General  Monk  attacks  the  Hyder  Ally— Barney's  clever 
stratagem— Irrelevant  remarks  of  a  Buck  County  "  marine  "— 
Capture  of  the  General  Monk— She  is  fitted  out  under  her  old 
name— Barney  commands  her  and  sails  on  an  important  mission 
—A  night  battle— The  enemy  beaten  off,  but  the  General  Wash- 
ington disabled— Puts  into  Cape  Francois  and  refits— Loads  with 
specie  loaned  to  the  United  States  and  returns  to  Baltimore  177-191 



Manly's  record— Commands  the  privateer  Cumberland-— Captured  and 
imprisoned — Escapes,  and,  returning  to  America,  commands  the 
privateer  Jason— Dismasted  in  a  gale  when  only  a  few  days 
out— Mutiny— Manly's  iron  will— Sails  again— Captures  two 
British  privateers— Forms  an  impromptu  squadron  with  other 
American  cruisers  at  sea— Lively  struggle  with  a  shark— Battle 
with  a  frigate— Captured— Harsh  treatment— At  Old  Mill  Prison 
—Return  to  America ,  192-204 



"Darkest  hour"  of  the  Revolution— Activity  on  the  high  seas  by 
our  privateers— Captures  by  the  Pilgrim— The  Congrm-Sawgt 
battle— Guerrilla  boats— Privateers  acting  in  squadrons— Brief 
summary  of  the  privateers  in  the  Revolution— A talunte-Ante* 
lope  fight  in  1798— French  attack  on  the  Louisa  in  1709— The 
Herald  defeats  a  French  privateer  in  Bengal  Bay,  1800 

THE  WAR  OF  18m. 


Fitting  out  privateers— Capture  of  the  first  British  cruisers,  the 
Whiting  and  Bloodhound— The  Black  Joke  and  Jack's  Favorit* 

CONTENTS.  xxxiii 


—Repulse  of  the  Indian?*  boats— Cruises  of  the  Madison  and 
Gossamer— Recapture  of  the  Nervma— Career  of  the  Fame  and 
Jfc?pM» 225-241 


Illicit  trade  with  the  enemy— Captain  Bray,  of  the  Plumper— Case  of 
the  Margaret— Captain  Burdett's  insolence— Legal  opinions  on 
"licensed  vessels  "—Prizes  by  the  revenue  cutter  Madison— Ex- 
plosion in  the  Gallatin 243-250 



Clever  seizure  of  the  Tulip—  Capture  of  the  Pursuit  and  Planter— 
Active  operations  of  the  Governor  Tompkina—TSaxiow  escape 
from  capture — The  Anaconda  by  mistake  attacks  the  Comwh 
dore  .Hw//— British  boats  attack  the  Anaconda  and  Atlas— Cap- 
ture of  the  Americans— Brilliant  careers  of  the  Scourge  and 
Rattlesnake 251-264 



Fitting  out  the  Yankee— Valuable  captures  in  her  first  and  second 
cruises— Raiding  West  African  ports— Action  with  the  Thames 
—Battle  with  a  Spaniard— A  $600,000  prize— Sixth  cruise  of  the 
Yankee— Fitting  out  the  True  Blooded  Yankee  in  France— She 
causes  great  havoc  in  English  waters— Finally  captured— Brief 
essays  of  the  Yankee  Lass  and  Yankee  American — Other  priva- 
teers sent  out  from  Little  Rhody 265-278 



An  ideal  privateersman — His  first  cruise  in  the  (70me£— Speedy  cap- 
tures— Battle  with  an  officious  Portuguese  cruiser  off  Pernam- 
buco— Victory  for  the  Americans — Hard  chase  by  a  British  man- 
of-war— A  trick  that  Boyle  detected — A  humorous  chase— Boyle 
commands  the  Chasseur— His  "superb  audacity" — Boyle  de- 
clares all  England  "blockaded — He  worries  the  West  Indian  mer- 
chants—His remarkable  action  with  thtf  cruiser  St.  Lawrence— 
A  battle  royal— Victory  .  i 279-800 





Barney  in  the  Sampson— Robbed  by  an  English  privateer— -His  ves- 
sel seized— Recaptures  her— Again  captured— Brutal  treatment 
—A  farcical  charge  of  "  piracy  "—Barney  is  liberated— Attacked 
by  a  ruffian  in  the  street—Rowley's  despicable  conduct — Barney 
enters  the  French  navy  and  becomes  a  commodore— In  the  War 
of  1812  commands  the  American  privateer  Home— Detention  by 
a  sheriff— A  cruise  of  remarkable  success  ....  301-807 



Three  Decaturs  in  the  privateer  service— One  chased  by  the  Consti- 
tution—The  third  Decatw  sails  from  Charleston— Meets  the  Do- 
mwwco—The  battle— A  desperate  struggle— Final  victory  of  the 
Americans— This  action  compared  with  the  regular  sloop  actions 
of  the  war— Kindness  of  the  Americans  to  their  prisoners  .  308-319 



Craft  sent  out  from  Norfolk— Career  of  the  Roger—  Privateers  of  Wil- 
mington, North  Carolina— New  Orleans  fits  out  amateur  cruisers 
— Five  sent  out  from  Savannah— Career  of  the  Hazard,  of 
Charleston— Other  privateers  from  that  port— Great  success  of 
the  Saucy  Jack— A  rich  prise— Battle  with  the  transports  Ool- 
den  Fleece  and  JBaldhoo 820-327 



Several  privateers  bearing  this  name— Her  first  venture— A  "terrible 
scourge"— Many  seizures-Capture  of  the ^ttjoteto— Curious 
cargoes—Battle  with  the  English  privateer  #/wafa^Total 
value  of  the  America's  prizes .......  828-335 



The  David  Porter  cleverly  eludes  the  blockading  squadron-^Chasod 
by  the  British  off  Charleston— Takes  in  a  cargo— A  bold  dash 
for  the  open  se<ir-A  terrific  storm  in  the  Bay  of  Biscay— The 
David  Porter  nearly  founders— Captain  Coggotthair»  fine  sea* 



chances  to  escape  a  British  frigate— Second  chase  by  the  same 
frigate— An  adroit  evasion— Safe  arrival  at  Tile  d'Yeu        .    336-849 



Critical  position  of  American  privateers  in  French  ports  in  April, 
1814— Advance  of  the  allied  armies  and  blockades  by  British 
fleets— Pitting  out  the  Leo  for  Captain  Coggeshall— She  sails — 
Chased  by  a  war  brig— Heavy  weather — Prizes — The  Leo  nearly 
dismasted— Driven  under  the  guns  of  a  frigate— Captured— 
Kind  treatment— Prisoners  taken  to  Gibraltar— Coggeshall's 
wonderful  escape 350-358 



At  Melville  Island — Inhuman  treatment— Hard  condition  of  our 
privateersmen  in  Jamaica  and  Barbadoes— A  perilous  escape 
from  Bermuda — Harsh  treatment  at  Kingston — "  Floating  Hells  " 
in  England— A  striking  contrast — Situation  of  Dartmoor  Prison 
— A  kind  English  surgeon — A  bold  dash  for  liberty — Treachery 
— The  second  attempt  successful — The  Dartmoor  massacre — A 
brutal  official 859-376 



Preparing  the  Prince  de  Neueh&tel  as  a  privateer— Her  many  valu- 
able captures  in  English  waters — Captain  Ordronaux  an  able 
commander— The  scene  off  Nantucket  Shoals — The  Prince  de 
Neuch&tel  meets  the  frigate  Endymion — British  make  a  boat 
attack— Desperate  encounter  with  the  Americans— Dreadful 
slaughter— Final  repulse  of  the  English— Embarrassed  by  many 
prisoners— Return  to  Boston— The  Prince  de  Neuch&tel  sails 
again — A  terrific  storm— A  negligent  officer— Chased  by  Sir 
George  Collier's  squadron — Dastardly  attempt  to  blow  up  the 
ship — Captured— American  tars  in  the  Lecwder—A.  battle  of 
songs— Final  discomfiture  of  the  prisoners  ....  377-890 



A  formidable  privateer — Her  first  venturer— Daring  raids  in  Eng- 
lish waters— "Waiting  for  the  enemy— Off  Pernambuco— -Nearly 

xxxvi  CONTENTS. 


trapped— A  hard  chase— Final  escape— A  square  yardarm  fight 
—Return  to  port 301-400 



A  council  of  war  at  La  Rochelle— Determination  to  put  to  sea— Au- 
dacious capture  of  the  transport  Mary— Harbor  blocked  by  a 
powerful  British  fleet — The  Ida's  bold  dash— The  English  give 
chase— At  close  quarters— Extraordinary  escape  of  the  Ida— The 
long  chase  at  sea— The  pursuers  finally  eluded  .  ,  .  401-407 



Unique  position  of  Salem  in  American  ship  lore— Importance  of  her 
commerce— Many  privateers  sent  out— "Little  boats  should 
keep  near  shore  "—Careers  of  the  Active  and  Alfred— The  mis- 
named Thrasher  and  Terrible— Losses  by  shipwreck— Remark- 
able adventures  of  the  Invincible  Napoleon — The  Nancy  and 
Frolic— Receipts  from  sale  of  prizes— The  Cadet  and  Charles 
Stewart 408-419 



The  Kemp  attacks  a  merchant  fleet— A  clever  ruse — A  stubborn  con- 
test—Successful career  of  the  Caroline — Many  captures— The 
Mammoth  puts  to  sea— Many  prizes  in  one  cruise  .  ,  .  420-426 



Success  of  the  Shadow— Action  with  the  May— The  Globe  fights  the 
JBoyd— The  Globe's  many  prizes— Checkered  career  of  the  Ma- 
tilda— Battle  between  the  Ned  and  the  Malvina— A  desperate 
struggle  between  the  Saratoga  and  the  Rachel— Captain  Wilson 
of  the  Macdonough  attacks  an  unknown  stranger .  .  .  427-488 



Captures  by  the  JBenfamin  Franklin— Careers  of  the  Mars,  Morgi- 
ana,  and  Eolkar— Exploits  of  the  Invincible,  Jonguille,  and  Ma~ 

CONTENTS.  xxrvii 


rengo— Orders  in  Council  and  Rosamond  take  prizes— The  catas- 
trophe in  the  Teaser— Valorous  exploit  of  the  "  Noble  Seventy  " 




Difficulties  in  capturing  packet  ships— The  Twonsend  taken  by  the 
Tom— Action  between  the  Highflyer  and  Bwchall— -Night  at- 
tack on  the  Highflyer— Action  between  the  Saratoga  and  Mor- 
giomor— Desperate  encounter  between  the  Globe  and  an  English 
packet  ship— The  Harpy  captures  the  Turkish  ambassador- 
British  acknowledgments  of  American  humanity  .  .  .  450-461 



Action  between  the  Diligent  and  the  J&owro— The  Lottery's  gallant 
defense  against  English  boats— Remarkable  career  of  the  Dol- 
phin— Her  heroic  fight  against  British  boats— Other  Dolphins 
in  this  war— The  JSagle  makes  an  "impudent"  seizure— The 
Montgomery  repels  an  English  attack— Under  the  enemy's  guns 
—The  Syren-Landrail  fight 463-473 



The  Revenge  and  Rolla  put  to  sea— Exploits  of  the  Sarah  Ann  and 
the  Expedition— The  Saline  and  Baltimore  make  prizes— 
"  Hardy  must  be  a  noble  fellow  "—Doings  of  the  York  and  Perry 
—The  xebec  Ultor— Services  of  the  fiJee  and  Lawrence— Careers 
of  the  Amelia,  Syren,  and  Whig  .  .  ' .  .  .  .  478-483 

CHAPTER  xxm. 


Action  of  the  General  Armstrong  off  the  Surinam  River— Under  the 
enemy's  guns— A  desperate  struggle— Many  prizes  taken  by  this 
famous  privateer— Champlin  commands  the  Warrior— A  clever 
stratagem— His  return  to  port  with  a  rich  cargo  .  .  .  484-490 



Captain  Reid  commands  the  General  Armstrong— Mading  the  block- 
ading squadron— Playing  at  "long  balls"  with  an  English 

xxxviii  CONTENTS. 


cruiser— Reid's  audacity— Arrival  in  the  port  of  flayal— Confer- 
ence with  the  American  consul — Approach  of  the  English  squad- 
ron—British boats  advance  to  attack— Spirited  defense  of  the 
General  J.ra«fr0w#— Repulse  of  the  enemy— The  second  attack 
— A  sanguinary  fight — The  losses  on  both  sides — Comparison  of 
this  battle  with  the  frigate  actions  of  the  war — Reid's  reception 
on  his  return  home 491-502 



American  privateering  limited  to  our  two  wars  with  Great  Britain — 
Declaration  of  Paris  in  1856— Jefferson  Davis  issues  letters  of 
marque— Confederate  privateers— Cases  of  the  Jeff  Davis,  JSeaur 
regard,  Judah,  and  Saiwmali — Sinking  of  the  Petrel — Summary 
of  privateering  in  the  Revolution  and  in  the  War  of  1812 — Our 
gallant  privateersmen  after  the  war 503-507 



Overawing  the  enemy.    By  George  Gibbs    .       .       .    Frontispiece 
The  pirates  fought  with  the  ferocity  of  despair.    By  George 

Gibbs Facing  84 

Captain  Abraham  Whipple    .       . 47 

The  affair  of  the  Q-aspt Facing  49 

The  "Boston  Tea  Party" 51 

Birthplace  of  Colonel  Jeremiah  O'Brien,  near  Machias,  Maine   .       .  52 
O'Brien's  Brook,  near  Machias,  Maine,  where  the  patriots  held  their 

secret  meetings 54 

Edward  Preble 60 

Silhouette  of  Colonel  Jehu  Eyre,  of  the  Philadelphia  firm  of  ship- 
builders      76 

Joshua  Barney 79 

John  Barry 84 

Thomas  Truxtun 87 

Stephen  Decatur 88 

David  Porter 90 

Esek  Hopkins 91 

Silas  Talbot 98 

Scene  of  Captain  Silas  Talbot's  exploits  in  Ehode  Island  waters        .  96 

Scene  of  Captain  Talbot's  cruises 104 

Instructions  to  privateers,  1776 Facing  182 

Barney's  escape  from  Mill  Prison.    By  George  Gibbs  .       .    Facing  154 

Joseph  Peabody 213 

The  President's  letter  of  marque  to  the  privateer  Herald  .     Facing  218 
Eescue  of  the  British  cruiser  Cornwallis  from  the  French  privateer 

La  Gloire  by  American  merchantmen  ....    Facing  220 

Captain  Silsbee 221 

Certificate  of  membership  in  the  Salem  Marine  Society      .    Facing  288 

Map  of  Albemarle  and  Pamlico  Sounds 260 

Capture  of  the  British  cruiser  St.  Lawrence  by  the  United  States 

privateer  Chasseur Facing  298 

Facsimile  of  a  page  in  the  America's  log  kept  during  her  third 

cruise Facing  383 

The  America,  owned  by  George  Orowmjishield  &  Sons,  the  most 

noted  Salem  privateer    .       .       .     • 335 




Dartmoor  Prison,  where  many  American  prisoners  were  confined     .  368 

Scene  of  the  Grand  Turk's  operations 394 

Entrance  to  the  harbor  of  La  Rochelle,  France  .       .       .     Facing  403 

Crowninshield's  Wharf,  Salem,  Mass.,  in  1812      .       .       .     Facing  410 

Battle  between  the  schooner  Saratoga  and  the  brig  Rachel     Facing  436 

Certificate  of  shares  in  the  privateer  Warrior     .       .       .     Facing  487 

Samuel  Reid 494 

The  United  States  sailing  frigate  St.  Lawrence  sinking  the  Confed- 
erate privateer  Petrel Facing  503 

For  the  use  of  the  three  Illustrations  by  Mr.  George  Glbbs  mentioned  in  this  list 
Messrs,  D.  Appleton  and  Company  desire  to  acknowledge  the  courtesy  of  the  Curtis 
Publishing  Company,  publishers  of  the  Saturday  Evening  Post.  Acknowledgment  should 
also  be  made  to  Charles  T.  Earbeck,  Esq.,  for  his  loans  of  rare  prints  and  documents. 





THERE  seems  to  be  much  confusion  in  the  minds 
of  some  people  as  to  what  a  privateer  is.  With  many, 
Government  cruisers,  privateers,  and  even  pirates, 
have  been  classed  under  one  head — namely,  a  vessel 
intended  for  fighting;  and,  as  will  be  seen  in  the  chap- 
ter on  Colonial  Privateers,  there  was  a  time  when 
there  was  little  to  distinguish  the  privateer  from 
the  rover  of  the  sea.  In  some  instances,  notably  that 
of  Captain  Kidd,  officers  of  the  Royal  Navy  turned 
to  piracy.  In  one  of  the  first  records  we  have  of 
privateering,  that  in  which  a  ship  belonging  to  Sir 
Thomas  Stanley,  son  of  the  Earl  of  Derby,  brought 
a  prize  into  the  Mersey  amid  "  great  rejoicing,"  the 
opinion  was  expressed  that,  after  all,  the  capture 
might  have  been  an  act  of  piracy. 

Mr.  Pepys,  who  is  a  recognized  authority  on 
matters  pertaining  to  the  early  history  of  the  British 
navy,  notes:  "The  Constant-Warwick  was  the  first 
frigate  built  in  England.  She  was  built  in  1649  by 
Mr.  Peter  Pett  for  a  privateer  for  the  Earl  of  War- 
wick, and  was  sold  by  him  to  the  States.  Mr.  Pett 
took  his  model  of  a  frigate  from  a  French  frigate 
which  he  had  seen  in  the  Thames;  as  his  son,  Sir 
Phineas  Pett,  acknowledged."  This  admission,  taken 
in  connection  with  the  fact  just  noted— namely,  that 
the  son  of  the  Earl  of  Derby  owned  a  privateer- 
would  seem  to  indicate  that  the  British  peerage,  if  not 
the  originators  of  the  practice  of  privateering,  were  at 


least  deeply  engaged  in  it  at  this  time.  The  Constant- 
Warwick  was  a  formidable  craft  for  her  day.  She 
measured  about  four  hundred  tons  and  carried 
twenty-six  guns,  divided  as  follows:  Eighteen  light 
demi-culverins,  or  short  10-pounders,  on  the  main 
deck;  six  light  sakers,  or  short  5-pounders,  and  two 

It  was  not  very  long  before  the  American  colonies 
had  secured  their  independence  of  Great  Britain  that 
privateering  had  come  into  vogue  as  a  recognized 
profession.  During  the  reign  of  George  II  privateers 
began  to  play  a  prominent  part  in  the  sea  power  of 
England,  and  then  the  Britons  seem  to  have  been 
driven  to  it  only  because  of  the  disastrous  activity 
displayed  by  their  Continental  rivals.  On  the  out- 
break of  the  Seven-Years  War,  1756,  French  priva- 
teers hovered  about  the  coasts  of  Great  Britain  and 
almost  annihilated  her  commerce,  that  of  Liverpool 
being  especially  exposed.  French  privateers  found 
their  way  into  the  Irish  Sea,  and  at  one  time  actually 
blockaded  the  port  of  Liverpool,  then  England's 
greatest  shipping  center.  Insurance  rose  to  prohib- 
itive rates,  while  trade  was  at  a  standstill.  The 
"  black  ivory  "  trade  at  that  time  had  been  especially 
profitable  and  the  British  merchant  had  the  alterna- 
tive of  sitting  idly  with  folded  hands  or  engaging  in 
the  same  amateur  warfare  that  his  French  brother 
was  so  vigorously  waging.  Acting  with  his  usual 
energy,  when  once  the  plan  was  decided  upon,  the 
British  merchant  not  only  equipped  his  useless 
traders  as  armed  cruisers,  but  began  the  construction 
of  many  swift-sailing  vessels  designed  especially  for 
privateering.  These  craft  were  sent  out,  and  not 
only  succeeded  in  making  it  dangerous  for  the  enemy 
to  venture  near  the  coast,  but  captured  a  large  num- 
ber of  merchantmen. 

One  of  the  first  of  these  privateers  to  leave  Liver- 
pool returned  in  a  few  weeks  with  a  French  West 
Indiaman  as  a  prize,  which  was  computed  to  be 

1744r-1756.  A  CELEBRATED  ENGLISH  PBIVATEERSMAN.         5 

worth  twenty  thousand  pounds.  Other  captures  of 
equal  value  quickly  followed;  and  "then,"  records 
an  English  writer,  "  the  whole  country  became  mad 
after  privateering  and  the  mania  even  spread  to  the 
colonies" — meaning  America.  Certain  it  is  that 
about  this  time  privateering  became  extremely  ac- 
tive in  these  colonies.  On  the  whole,  however,  the 
Liverpool  merchant  was  opposed  to  this  kind  of  war- 
fare. It  was  strictly  as  a  business  venture  that  he 
was  induced  to  engage  in  it,  in  the  first  instance;  for, 
notwithstanding  the  fact  that  his  privateersmen  were 
eminently  successful,  having  taken  in  the  first  four 
years  one  hundred  and  forty-three  prizes,  he  found 
that  the  final  results  were  disastrous  to  trade.  When 
the  war  with  the  Americas  colonies  broke  out  the 
British  merchant  was  loath  to  resort  to  privateering, 
and  while  the  Americans  were  sending  out  dozens  of 
these  craft  the  Liverpool  people  did  little.  In  fact, 
it  was  not  till  the  French  had  joined  in  the  war  that 
the  Liverpool  merchant  bestirred  himself  in  this  line 
— the  only  paying  occupation  left  to  him. 

One  of  the  most  celebrated  of  Liverpool's  priva- 
teersmen was  Captain  Fortunatus  Wright.  As  early 
as  1744,  shortly  after  the  outbreak  of  the  war  with 
France,  this  man,  with  the  assistance  of  some  Eng- 
lish merchants  residing  in  Leghorn,  fitted  out  a 
privateer,  which  they  called  the  Fame,  for  the  pur- 
pose of  preying  on  the  enemy's  commerce.  Accord- 
ing to  the  Gentleman's  Magazine  of  1776  the  Fame, 
while  under  the  command  of  Captain  Wright,  cap- 
tured sixteen  French  ships  in  the  Levant,  the  cargoes 
and  craft  being  valued  at  four  hundred  thousand 

When,  in  1756,  the  merchants  of  Liverpool  deter- 
mined to  go  into  privateering  on  their  own  account, 
Wright  was  again  at  Leghorn.  Believing  a  re- 
newal of  hostilities  with  France  to  be  inevitable,  he 
caused  a  small  vessel,  which  he  called  the  St.  George, 
to  be  built  and  fitted  out  for  the  express  purpose 


of  cruising  against  the  enemy.  His  plans  became 
known  to  the  French,  and  a  xebec  mounting  sixteen 
guns  was  stationed  at  the  entrance  of  the  harbor  to 
nip  his  mischievous  project  in  the  bud.  As  the  xebec 
carried  a  complement  of  two  hundred  and  eighty 
men,  which  was  more  than  Wright  could  hope  to 
bring  together,  the  chances  of  his  getting  to  sea  were 
small,  especially  as  it  was  well  known  that  the 
French  king  had  promised  a  reward  of  three  thou- 
sand livres  a  year  for  life,  the  honor  of  knighthood, 
and  the  command  of  a  sloop  of  war  to  whomsoever 
brought  this  particular  Wright,  dead  or  alive,  into 
France.  The  prodigality  of  these  offers  for  the 
head  of  the  doughty  Englishman  is  sufficient  evi- 
dence of  the  vast  amount  of  harm  he  had  occasioned 
French  commerce. 

Stimulated  by  the  prospect  of  these  glittering 
rewards,  the  people  in  the  xebec  maintained  a  suc- 
cessful watch  on  the  St.  George.  At  that  time  the 
Tuscan  Government  was  in  sympathy  with  that  of 
France,  and  it  added  to  the  critical  position  of  Wright 
by  insisting  that  he  must  leave  port  with  no  more 
than  four  guns  and  twenty-five  men.  In  keeping  with 
these  instructions  Wright  sailed  from  Leghorn,  July 
25,  1756,  in  the  St.  George,  having  in  company  three 
small  merchantmen.  When  clear  of  the  harbor  he 
took  on  board  eight  guns  which  he  had  concealed  in 
his  convoys.  Wright  also  had  induced  some  fifty-five 
volunteers,  consisting  for  the  most  part  of  Slavoni- 
ans, Venetians,  Italians,  Swiss,  and  a  few  English- 
men, to  enter  his  convoys  in  the  same  way,  and  they 
also  were  transferred  to  the  St.  George.  With  this 
armament  and  complement  he  awaited  the  attack  of 
the  xebec. 

The  action  was  begun  about  noon  in  full  view  of 
thousands  of  spectators,  nearly  all  of  them  sympa- 
thizers of  the  French.  In  three  quarters  of  an  hour 
the  xebec  had  her  commander,  lieutenant,  and  eighty- 
eight  men  killed,  some  seventy  more  wounded,  and 

1776.  "GENTLEMEN  SAILORS."  7 

the  ship  herself  was  so  cut  up  that  the  survivors  were 
glad  to  make  their  escape  toward  the  shore.  Wright 
had  only  five  men  killed,  one  of  them  his  lieutenant, 
and  eight  wounded.  The  result  of  this  action  so 
angered  the  Tuscan  authorities  that  they  seized  the 
St.  George,  and  in  all  probability  would  have  detained 
her  indefinitely  had  not  Admiral  Hawke,  with  two 
ships  of  the  line,  appeared  off  Leghorn  shortly  after- 
ward and  brought  them  into  a  more  friendly  state  of 
mind.  In  March  of  the  following  year  Wright  was 
lost  at  sea  while  on  a  voyage  from  Leghorn  to  Malta. 

The  privateer,  as  understood  at  the  outbreak  of 
the  war  for  American  independence,  was  a  ship 
armed  and  fitted  out  at  private  expense  for  the  pur- 
pose of  preying  on  the  enemy's  commerce  to  the  profit 
of  her  owners,  and  bearing  a  commission,  or  letter  of 
marque,  authorizing  her  to  do  so,  from  the  Govern- 
ment. Usually  the  Government  claimed  a  portion  of 
the  money  realized  from  the  sales  of  prizes  and  their 
cargoes.  The  owners,  of  course,  had  the  lion's  share, 
though  a  considerable  portion  was  divided  among  the 
officers  and  crew  as  an  additional  incentive  to  secur- 
ing prizes.  In  fact,  it  was  this  division  of  the  spoils, 
rather  than  the  wages,  that  induced  many  of  our  best 
seamen  to  enter  this  peculiarly  dangerous  service.  It 
frequently  happened  that  even  the  common  sailors 
received  as  their  share,  in  one  cruise,  over  and  above 
their  wages,  one  thousand  dollars — a  small  fortune 
in  those  days  for  a  mariner. 

This  opportunity  to  get  rich  suddenly  gave  rise 
to  a  peculiar  class  of  seamen,  who  became  known  as 
"  gentlemen  sailors."  All  seaports  sending  out  priva- 
teers were  thronged  with  these  tars  of  exalted  degree, 
and,  in  many  cases,  of  long  pedigree.  Usually  they 
were  of  highly  respectable  parentage,  and  in  some  in- 
stances belonged  to  well-known  families.  They  went 
to  sea,  not  as  common  seamen,  but  as  adventurers  to 
whom  the  chances  of  making  prize  money  were  suffi- 
cient inducement  to  undergo  the  -hardships  and  perils 


of  the  sea.  Being  better  educated  and  well  trained 
to  the  use  of  arms— especially  excelling  the  ordinary 
sailor  in  the  latter  accomplishment — they  were  wel- 
comed in  the  privateer,  and  the  commander  was  glad 
to  give  them  unusual  privileges.  They  were  not 
assigned  to  the  ordinary  work  of  the  seaman,  but 
formed  a  sort  of  a  marine  guard,  standing  between 
the  officers  and  the  regular  crew.  This  arrangement 
came  to  be  understood  when  the  "  gentleman  sailor  " 
shipped.  The  common  seamen  were  to  do  the  real 
drudgery  of  ship  work,  while  these  privileged  tars 
were  to  be  on  hand  when  fighting  was  to  be  done. 

It  seems  that  the  "  gentlemen  sailors  "  were  not 
confined  to  the  male  sex,  for  when  our  schooner 
Revenge  was  captured  by  the  British  privateer  Belle 
Poole  the  American  prisoners  were  ordered  to  Ports- 
mouth prison,  upon  which  one  of  the  prisoners  an- 
nounced "himself"  to  be  a  woman.  Her  love  for 
adventure  had  induced  her  to  don  male  attire,  and 
she  had  been  serving  many  months  without  her  sex 
having  been  known. 

The  officers  and  crews  of  our  Government  war 
ships  also  received  a  proportion  of  the  money  re- 
sulting from  taking  a  prize,  and  even  when  they 
failed  to  bring  the  vessel  to  port,  and  in  some  cases 
where  they  lost  their  own  ship,  they  received  their 
share  of  prize  money.   According  to  a  law  made  April 
13,  1800,  the  following  rule  for  distribution  of  prize 
money  was  made  for  Government  cruisers:  "  When 
the  prize  is  of  equal  or  superior  force  to  the  ves- 
sel making  the  capture,  it  shall  be  the  sole  prop- 
erty of  the  captors.    If  of  inferior  force,  it  shall  be 
divided  equally  between  the  United  States  and  the 
officers  and  men  making  the  capture."    The  act  regu- 
lates the  proportion  in  which  the  officers  and  men 
shall  divide  the  prize  money.    "All  public  ships  in 
sight  at  the  time  of  making  prize  shall  share  equally. 
Twenty  dollars  to  Re  paid  by  the  United  States  for 
each  person  on  board  an  enemy's  ship  at  the  com- 

1800-1812.         DISTRIBUTION  OF  PRIZE  MONEY.  9 

mencement  of  an  engagement  which  shall  be  burned, 
sunk,  or  destroyed  by  any  United  States  vessel  of 
equal  or  inferior  force.  All  prize  money  accruing  to 
the  United  States  is  solemnly  pledged  as  a  fund  for 
payment  of  pensions  and  half  pay  should  the  same  be 
hereafter  granted.  If  this  fund  be  insufficient,  the 
faith  of  the  United  States  is  pledged  for  the  defi- 
ciency; if  more  than  sufficient,  the  surplus  is  to  go  to 
the  comfort  of  disabled  mariners,  or  such  as  may  de- 
serve the  gratitude  of  their  country." 

By  an  act  made  June  26,  1812,  the  prize  money 
from  captures  made  by  private  armed  craft  was  to 
go  only  to  their  owners,  the  officers  and  crew,  "  to  be 
distributed  according  to  any  written  engagement  be- 
tween them;  and,  if  there  be  none,  then  one  moiety 
to  the  owners,  and  the  other  to  the  officers  and  crew. 
Two  per  cent,  on  the  net  amount  of  the  prizes  to  be 
paid  over  to  the  collectors  as  a  fund  for  widows  and 
orphans  and  disabled  seamen."  The  Government 
also  paid  twenty  dollars  bounty  for  every  man  in  the 
captured  vessel  at  the  beginning  of  the  engagement. 

Congress  voted  fifty  thousand  dollars  to  the  offi- 
cers and  crew  of  the  Constitution  when  they  captured 
the  Guerri&re,  and  the  same  amount  when  she  took 
the  Java,  notwithstanding  the  fact  that  each  craft 
was  destroyed  at  sea.  The  same  sum  was  given  to  the 
captors  of  the  Macedonian.  The  rule  for  distributing 
prize  money  in  the  navy  was  to  divide  the  total 
amount  into  twenty  equal  parts.  Where  the  sum  was 
fifty  thousand  dollars  the  result  was  as  follows:  Three 
parts,  or  seven  thousand  five  hundred  dollars,  to  the 
captain;  two  parts,  or  five  thousand  dollars,  to  the 
sea  lieutenants  and  sailing  master;  two  parts,  or 
five  thousand  dollars,  to  the  marine  officers,  sur- 
geon, purser,  boatswain,  gunner,  carpenter,  mas- 
ter's mates,  and  chaplain;  three  parts,  or  seven 
thousand  five  hundred  dollars,  to  the  midshipmen, 
surgeon's  mates,  captain's  clerk,  schoolmaster,  boat- 
swain's mates,  steward,  sailmaker,  master-at-arms, 


armorer,  and  coxswain;  three  parts,  or  seven  thou- 
sand five  hundred  dollars,  to  the  gunner's  yeomen, 
boatswain's  yeomen,  quartermasters,   quarter  gun- 
ners, coopers,  sailmaker's  mates,  sergeants  and  cor- 
porals of  the  marines,  drummer,  fifer,  and  extra  petty 
officers;   seven  parts,   or  seventeen   thousand   five 
hundred  dollars,  to  the  seamen,  ordinary  seamen 
marines,  and  boys.      As  the  last  item,  seventeer 
thousand  five  hundred  dollars,  was  divided  amonj 
some  two  hundred  men  and  boys,  it  gave  abow 
eighty-seven  dollars  to  each  man,  or  nearly  an  equiva 
lent  to  a  year's  wages.   To  the  commander,  whose  pa; 
varied  from  six  hundred  dollars  to  twelve  hundre< 
dollars,  the  sum  of  seven  thousand  five  hundre 
dollars  was  a  snug  fortune.     Each  of  the  sea  Her 
tenants  got  a  little  less  than  one  thousand  dollars 
their  regular  pay  being  four  hundred  and  eight 

In  case  of  actions  between  sloops  of  war  Congres 
generally  allowed  twenty-five  thousand  dollars  to  01 
officers  and  crews  if  victorious,  even  in  the  case  < 
Master-Commandant  Jacob  Jones,  where  he  lost  n< 
only  his  prize,  the  Frolic,  but  his  own  ship.    For  tl 
battle  of  Lake  Erie  Captain  Chauncey,  being  tl 
superior  officer  on  the  Great  Lakes — although  takii 
no  part  in  the  action — received  twelve  thousand  sev< 
hundred    and    fifty    dollars;    Master-Communda 
Perry,  twelve  thousand  one  hundred  and  forty  d< 
lars,  his  pay  being  only  seven  hundred  and  twcn 
dollars;  Master-Commandant  Elliott,  seven  thonsa; 
one  hundred  and  forty  dollars;  each  commander 
a  gunboat,  lieutenant,  sailing  master,  and  lieutemi 
of  marines,  two  thousand  two  hundred  and  nine 
five  dollars;   each  midshipman,  eight  hundred  a 
eleven  dollars,  the  pay  of  a  midshipman  being  01 
two  hundred  and  twenty-eight  dollars;  each  pei 
officer,  four  hundred  and  forty-seven  dollars;  E 
rines  and  sailors  each  two  hundred  and  nine  dolla 
These,  however,  were  comparatively  msignifkj 

1779-181S.  ENOBMOUS  PROFITS.  11 

instances  of  prize  moneys.  In  a  cruise  lasting  only 
a  few  weeks  in  1779  the  United  States  cruisers,  Queen 
of  France,  Captain  John  P.  Eathbourne;  the  Prom- 
dence,  Captain  Abraham  Whipple,  who  was  in  com- 
mand in  the  first  overt  act  of  resistance  against  Brit- 
ish authority  in  America;  and  the  Ranger,  Captain 
William  Simpson,  brought  eight  merchantmen  into 
Boston,  their  cargoes  being  valued  at  over  a  million 
dollars.  One  of  the  boys  in  the  Ranger,  fourteen  years 
old,  who  less  than  a  month  before  had  left  a  farm 
to  ship  in  this  cruiser,  received  as  his  share  one  ton 
of  sugar,  from  thirty  to  forty  gallons  of  fourth  proof 
Jamaica  rum,  some  twenty  pounds  of  cotton,  and 
about  the  same  quantity  of  ginger,  logwood,  and  all- 
spice, besides  seven  hundred  dollars  in  money.  In 
many  instances  during  the  War  of  1812  American 
cruisers  took  prizes  valued  at.  over  a  million  dollars. 
The  Chesapeake  has  been  credited  with  being  one  of 
the  unlucky  cruisers  in  that  war,  yet  in  the  cruise  just 
before  her  meeting  with  the  Shannon  she  captured  one 
ship,  the  Volunteer,  the  cargo  of  which  was  valued 
at  seven  hundred  thousand  dollars;  and  in  the  same 
cruise  she  took  the  Ellen,  whose  cargo  was  sold  in 
Boston  for  seventeen  thousand  five  hundred  and  sixty 
dollars.  The  little  sloop  Peacock,  Master-Commandant 
Lewis  Warrington,  in  one  cruise  took  prizes  valued 
at  six  hundred  and  thirty-five  thousand  dollars. 

The  Government  usually  allowed  a  bounty  for 
each  prisoner  brought  into  port.  This  bounty 
amounted  to  about  twenty  dollars  a  head,  but  in 
most  cases  the  privateersman  preferred  to  rid  him- 
self of  prisoners  at  the  earliest  possible  moment. 
There  were  several  reasons  for  this.  Even  had  the 
bounty  been  as  high  as  one  hundred  dollars  a  man,  it 
would  not  have  paid  the  successful  privateersman  to 
accumulate  prisoners,  especially  when  on  a  long  voy- 
age— and  there  could  be  no  telling  how  long  a  cruise 
would  last — for  the  cost  of  feeding  amounted  to  a 
large  sum.  Then  the  danger  of  having  too  many 

1  b*  -     -  —  -„ 


prisoners  was  shown  dozens  of  times  when  the  cap- 
tured rose  on  their  captors,  and  not  only  recovered 
their  own  vessel,  but  made  prisoners  of  the  priva 
teersmen.  On  August  2,  1813,  a  law  was  enacted 
providing  a  bounty  of  twenty-five  dollars  on  eacl 

The  first  and  greatest  element  of  success  with  * 
privateersman  was  audacity.    Without  that,  abov< 
all  other  things,  he  was  doomed  to  ignominious  fail 
ure.     The  regular  man-of-warsman  might  go  an< 
come  on  his  cruises  without  meeting  an  enemy  o 
taking  a  prize  and  yet  suffer  little  in  the  estimatio: 
of  the  department.   In  fact,  in  our  first  essays  agains 
the  mistress  of  the  ocean,  both  at  the  time  of  th 
Revolution  and  in  the  War  of  1812,  the  naval  con 
mander  who  put  to  sea  and  regained  port  with 
whole  skin  was  regarded,  by  our  then  overtimi 
naval  administrators,  as  being  a  singularly  fortunat 
and  capable  officer.    Not  so  with  a  privateersmai 
To  return  to  port  empty-handed  was  to  commit  tl 
greatest  sin  of  the  profession.    Hence  we  find  th<* 
the  privateersman  was  preeminently  a  bold  and  da 
ing  man,  and  when  such  qualities  were  combine 
with  skillful  seamanship  we  have  the  ideal  priv 

A  good  illustration   of  the  "audacious  imp 
dence"  of  our  privateersmen  is  had  in  the  case 
the  Paul  Jones,  of  New  York.    This  vessel  put  to  s< 
at  the  outbreak  of  the  War  of  1812  with  a  comp] 
ment  of  one  hundred  and  twenty  men,  but  with  on 
three  guns.    Almost  her  first  prize  was  the  heavi 
armed  British  merchantman  //am*?.,  carrying  fo\ 
teen  guns  and  a  crew  of  twenty  men,  white  li 
cargo  was  worth  some  two  hundred  thousand  clolla 
The  Paul  Jones,  though  carrying  only  three  gun«,  ^ 
pierced  for  seventeen.   It  is  said  that  the  comtnanc 
of  the  Paul  Jones  sawed  off  some  spare  masts  to  t 
length  of  guns,   painted  them   black,  and,  bei 
mounted  on  buckets,  rolled  them  out  of  hia 

1812-1778.    THE  ENGLISH  PBIVATEEESMAN  OF  1778.  13 

ports  as  effective  imitations  of  heavy  ordnance.  Then 
filling  his  rigging  with  his  superfluous  force  of  men, 
so  far  overawed  the  enemy  that  they  surrendered 
as  soon  as  the  privateer,  with  her  dummy  guns,  got 
fairly  alongside.  The  Americans  then  helped  them- 
selves to  such  of  the  Hassan's  guns  and  ammunition 
as  they  needed  and  went  on  their  way  rejoicing. 

The  English  privateersmen  of  1778  are  described 
by  one  of  their  countrymen  of  that  period  as  "  a  reck- 
less, dreadnaught,  dare-devil  collection  of  human 
beings,  half  disciplined,  but  yet  ready  to  obey  every 
order.  The  service  was  popular;  the  men  shipping 
in  privateers,  being  safe  from  impressment,  the  most 
dashing  and  daring  of  the  sailors  came  out  of  their 
hiding  holes  to  enter  in  them.  Your  true  privateers- 
man  was  a  sort  of  half  horse,  half  alligator,  with 
a  streak  of  lightning  in  his  composition — something 
like  a  man-of-warsman,  but  much  more  like  a  pirate 
— with  a  superabundance  of  whisker,  as  if  he  held, 
with  Samson,  that  his  strength  was  in  the  quantity 
of  his  hair."  So  far  as  the  "  dare-devil "  and  "  dread- 
naught  "  qualities  of  this  description  go,  they  fit  the 
American  privateersmen  well  enough;  but  so  far  as 
the  "  whisker,"  "  half  horse,  half  alligator,"  and  "  pi- 
rate "  parts  of  it  are  concerned  the  author  is  satis- 
fied that  they  are  widely  shy  of  the  mark.  We  can 
readily  believe,  however,  after  reading  the  following 
account  of  a  battle  between  an  English  and  a  French 
privateer,  published  over  a  century  ago,  that  the  fore- 
going description  of  the  British  privateersman  is  not 
overdrawn:  "December  23,  1777,  Captain  Death,  of 
the  privateer  Terrible,  of  London,  was  killed  in  an 
engagement  with  the  Vengeance,  a  privateer  of  St. 
Malo.  The  annals  of  mankind  can  not  show  an 
effort  of  more  desperate  courage  than  was  exerted 
under  the  command  of  Captain  Death.  He  had  in 
the  beginning  of  his  cruise  made  a  prize  of  a  rich 
merchantman  with  which  he  was  returning  to  Eng- 
land in  triumph  when  he  had  the  fortune  to  fall  in 


14  PRIVATEERS  AND  PRIVATEERSMEN.      1778-1813. 

with  the  Vengeance,  much  his  superior  in  force,  thirty- 
six  to  twenty-six  guns.  The  Terrible's  prize  was  soon 
taken  and  converted  against  her;  but  so  unequally 
matched,  Captain  Death  maintained  a  furious  en- 
gagement. The  French  captain  and  his  second  in 
command  were  killed  with  two  thirds  of  his  com- 
pany, but  much  more  dreadful  was  the  slaughter 
on  board  the  TerriUe.  When  the  enemy  boarded 
they  only  found  one  scene  of  slaughter,  silence  and 
desolation.  Of  two  hundred  men  only  sixteen  were 
found  remaining,  and  the  ship  so  shattered  as  scarce- 
ly to  be  kept  above  water.  The  following  are  the  re- 
markable names  of  the  officers  of  the  TerriUe:  Captain 
Death,  Lieutenants  Spirit  and  Ghost,  Boatswain 
Butcher,  Quartermaster  Debbie;  launched  out  of 
Execution  Dock,  London." 

In  general,  the  conduct  of  American  privateers- 
men  on  the  high  seas  was  most  commendable. 
They  showed  themselves  to  be  not  only  daring,  but 
gentlemanly.  When  the  schooner  Industry,  Captain 
Eenneaux,  a  prize  to  the  privateer  Benjamin  Franklin, 
Captain  Ingersol,  of  New  York,  reached  that  port, 
August  24,  1812,  it  was  learned  that  the  craft  be- 
longed to  a  widow  whose  only  dependence  was  on 
the  earnings  of  that  vessel.  Although  the  Industry 
had  two  thousand  dollars'  worth  of  goods  aboard, 
the  Americans  restored  her  and  her  cargo  to  the 
widow.  Many  of  our  privateersmen  were  men  en- 
gaged in  the  Newfoundland  fisheries,  and  a  hardier 
or  more  daring  set  of  men  would  be  difficult  to 
find.  An  American  periodical,  of  the  date  August  8, 
1812,  notes:  "About  thirty  fishing  vessels  have  ar- 
rived at  Marblehead  (Mass.),  from  the  Banks  within 
a  few  days,  and  only  three  remained  absent.  These 
hardy  and  patriotic  citizens  will  generally  become 
fishers  of  ships." 

Soon  after  the  outbreak  of  the  War  of  1812,  Niles, 
in  his  Register,  notes:  "The  enemies  of  the  United 
States  have  used  many  efforts  to  discredit  the  busi- 


ness  of  privateering  in  proclaiming,  magnifying 
reiterating,  under  many  new  shapes,  any  eno 
that  may  have  been  committed  by  any  of  our  p: 
armed  vessels,  and  some  must  be  expected.  I 
confounds  these  wretches,  and  affords  great  sat 
tion  to  the  people  at  large,  to  observe  that  our  ] 
teers,  in  general,  have  conducted  themselves 
remarkable  propriety,  in  many  cases  receivinj 
public  thanks  of  the  captured.  We  trust  this 
name  will  be  sustained,  though  the  enemy,  thi 
his  friends  here,  may  strive  to  blast  it." 

The  humanity  of  Americans  who  were  eng 
in  the  "  business  of  privateering  "  early  in  the 
tury  is  amusingly  brought  out  in  a  notice  T> 
appeared  in  a  London  paper,  published  in  Decei 
1814:  "Mr.  Editor:  You  will  please  a  great  nu: 
of  your  readers  in  Great  Britain,  who  are  zealo 
spreading  the  Divine  Gospel  all  over  the  eart] 
showing  them  that  there  are  some  American 
zens  who  are  willing  to  unite  with  us  in  sending 
sionaries  to  all  parts  of  the  globe.  The  Rev.  Mr. 
son  read  the  following  note,  which  was  transm 
to  him  by  one  of  his  brethren  in  Wales:  'A 
weeks  since  a  trading  vessel  laden  with  corn  [wl 
from  Cardigan,  in  Wales,  was  taken  in  the  chann 
an  American  privateer.  When  the  captain  ol 
latter  entered  the  cabin  to  survey  the  prize  he  ei 
a  small  box  with  a  hole  in  the  top — similar  to 
which  tradesmen  have  in  their  counters  thr< 
which  they  drop  their  money — on  which  the  w 
"Missionary  box"  were  inscribed.  On  seeing 
the  American  captain  seemed  not  a  little  astou: 
and  addressed  the  Welsh  captain  as  follows: 

"  '  "  Captain,  what  is  this?  "  pointing  to  the 
with  his  stick. 

" '  "  Oh,"  replied  the  honest  Cambrian,  heavi 
sigh,  "  'tis  all  over  now." 

«  <  "  What?  "  said  the  American  captain, 

"  <  "  Why,  the  truth  is,"  said  th^  Welshman,  " 


I  and  my  poor  fellows  have  been  accustomed  every 
Monday  morning  to  drop  a  penny  each  into  that  box 
for  the  purpose  of  sending  out  missionaries  to  preach 
the  Gospel  to  the  heathen;  but  it  is  all  over  now." 

"< "Indeed,"  answered  the  American  captain, 
"  that  is  very  good," 

" '  After  pausing  a  few  minutes  he  said:  "  Captain, 
I'll  not  hurt  a  hair  of  your  head,  nor  touch  your  ves- 
sel," and  he  immediately  departed,  leaving  the  owner 
to  pursue  his  course  to  his  destined  port.'  " 

That  all  the  religious  qualities  of  American  priva- 
teersmen  were  not  confined  to  skippers  from  New 
York  is  seen  in  the  following  account  of  the  capture 
of  the  brig  Falcon  by  the  America:  "  Among  the  goods 
of  the  valuable  prize  brig  Falcon  sent  into  Bath  by  the 
America  of  Salem  were  about  nine  hundred  Bibles 
in  the  English  and  Dutch  languages  and  five  hun- 
dred Testaments  forwarded  for  distribution  at  the 
Cape  of  Good  Hope  by  the  British  and  Foreign  Bible 
Society.  The  Messrs.  Crowninshield,  to  whom  the 
privateer  belonged,  permitted  a  purchase  of  them  to 
be  made  by  the  Bible  Society  of  Massachusetts  at  a 
price  hardly  sufficient  to  legalize  the  sale — s,ay  about 
twenty  cents  to  the  pound  sterling.  The  conduct  of 
those  gentlemen  is  highly  spoken  of  in  the  Eastern 

Another  instance  of  the  gallantry  of  the  American 
privateersman  is  had  in  the  following: 

A  Mrs.  Elizabeth  Bell,  of  Nova  Scotia,  happened 
to  be  a  passenger  in  the  schooner  Ann,  Captain  Kelly, 
of  Halifax,  when  captured  by  the  American  priva- 
teer Dolphin,  Captain  Endicott.  Beaching  Salem 
Mrs.  Bell  caused  a  notice  to  be  published  in  a  news- 
paper acknowledging  "  with  much  gratitude  the  gen- 
tlemanly and  humane  treatment  of  the  captain  and 
prize  master  of  the  Dolphin  in  returning  to  her  nine 
hundred  dollars,  together  with  her  personal  effects." 

A  still  more  forcible  illustration  of  the  humanity 
of  American  privaleersmen  is  had  early  in  1782,  when 

1782-1814,  "FLEET  SAILIHGK"  17 

the  private  armed  sloop  Lively,  Captain  D.  Adams,  of 
Massachusetts,  rescued  the  officers  and  crew  of  the 
British  frigate  Blonde  which  had  been  wrecked  on  a 
barren  and  desolate  island.  The  treatment  which 
all  American  prisoners,  and  especially  privateers- 
men,  had  received  at  the  hands  of  the  British  would 
have  almost  justified  the  commander  of  the  Lively  in 
leaving  these  shipwrecked  mariners  to  their  fate. 
But  the  American  jack  tar  is  a  generous  fellow,  and 
nothing  appeals  so  strongly  to  his  compassion  as  a 
fellow-seaman  in  distress,  and  on  this  occasion  the 
people  of  the  Lively  extended  every  assistance  to  their 
enemies  and  brought  them  safely  into  port. 

-So  widespread  had  become  the  practice  of  priva- 
teering that  by  the  outbreak  of  the  Revolution  Brit- 
ish merchantmen  had  two,  and  only  two,  well-defined 
methods  of  going  to  sea:  First  as  a  part  of  a  fleet  con- 
voyed by  a  suitable  force  of  war  ships,  or  as  strongly 
armed  "  running  ships."  Fleet  sailing  with  the  Brit- 
ish was  the  favorite  practice  and  grew  to  enormous 
proportions,  a  fleet  of  one  hundred  merchantmen  not 
being  unusual,  and  it  is  recorded  that  as  many  as  six 
hundred  have  sailed  at  one  time.  On  some  occasions 
several  months  were  spent  in  collecting  the  fleet  at 
a  port  convenient  to  the  English  or  Irish  Channels 
— generally  at  Portsmouth  or  Dublin — and  on  a 
stated  day  they  sailed  for  the  East  or  West  Indies, 
escorted  by  a  number  of  war  ships. 

Of  course,  in  the  case  of  such  a  large  fleet  sailing 
its  departure  and  destination  were  widely  advertised 
in  England  several  months  before,  so  that  American 
agents  had  every  opportunity  to  inform  their  friends 
across  the  Atlantic  of  the  facts.  The  result  was  that 
as  soon  as  a  fleet  sailed  American  cruisers  or  priva- 
teers were  in  waiting  on  the  course  the  fleet  must 
take,  and  were  ready  to  pounce  upon  any  stray  mer- 
chantman that  had  the  ill-luck  to  be  separated  from 
the  convoy.  If  it  was  a  large  fleet,  the  flagship  of  the 
convoy  usually  was  a  line  of  battle  ship  commanded 

18  PRIVATEERS  AND  PR1VATEERSMEK      1776-1782. 

by  an  admiral,  and  was  accompanied  by  one  or  two 
frigates  and  a  number  of  sloops  of  war  or  brigs.  If  a 
small  fleet,  a  frigate  with  one  or  two  sloops  of  war 
was  considered  sufficient.  When  ready  for  sea  the 
admiral  signaled  for  all  commanders  to  come  aboard, 
when  written  instructions  or  "  sailing  orders  "  were 
given  as  to  the  meaning  of  the  various  signals  that 
might  be  used  in  the  course  of  the  voyage,  and  also 
such  other  information  as  might  conduce  to  their 

On  leaving  port  the  flagship  usually  took  the  lead, 
and  was  known  as  the  vanship,  while  a  fast-sail- 
ing frigate  took  her  position  in  the  rear  so  as  to  tow 
up  any  dull-sailing  merchantman  that  otherwise 
might  be  left  behind.  The  sloops  and  brigs  of  war  did 
guard  duty  on  each  flank.  One  of  the  most  rigid 
rules  of  fleet  sailing  was  that  no  merchantman 
should  go  ahead  of  the  vanship,  which  vessel  was 
to  be  constantly  watched  for  signals.  Another 
equally  rigid  rule,  and  the  one  most  frequently  en- 
forced, was  for  the  headmost  ships  to  shorten  sail 
when  signaled  to  do  so  by  the  flagship,  and  for  the 
sternmost  vessels  to  make  all  sail  to  catch  up;  and 
frequently  a  frigate  or  a  sloop  of  war  was  ordered 
to  tow  up  some  dull  sailer  so  as  to  keep  the  fleet  as 
compact  as  possible.  In  order  to  do  this  a  hawser 
was  made  fast  to  the  foremast  of  the  merchantman, 
and  she  was  towed  ahead  of  all  the  other  merchant- 
men, or  just  under  the  vanship's  stern.  At  nightfall 
the  signal  "  close  order  "  was  given  from  the  flagship, 
and  the  merchantmen  huddled  together  as  closely  as 
possible  under  the  stern  of  the  vanship  and  did  not 
spread  out  again  until  daylight. 

This  cumbersome  arrangement  of  fleet  sailing  had 
its  disadvantages.  When  such  a  fleet  homeward 
bound  was  being  collected  in  the  West  Indies,  it  was 
impossible  to  keep  the  fact  concealed  from  the  vigi- 
lant privateersmen,  and  they  took  advantage  of  it 
by  placing  their  vessels  in  the  course  the  fleet  was 

1776-1782.          "DOGGING"  MBECHANT  FLEETS.  10 

obliged  to  take.  These  merchantmen  usually  were 
laden  with  sugar  and  coffee,  the  most  desirable 
cargoes  for  privateersmen,  who  not  infrequently 
dogged  a  convoy  across  the  Atlantic  in  the  hope  of 
picking  up  some  stray  craft.  On  such  occasions  two 
privateers  acting  in  concert  stood  a  much  better 
chance  than  one — especially  if  it  was  a  small  fleet, 
escorted  by  only  one  vessel;  for,  while  the  "bull- 
dog "  was  furiously  chasing  one  of  the  swift-sailing 
privateers,  the  other  managed  to  pounce  upon  the 
prey  unseen  by  the  escort.  In  such  cases  the  quick- 
est kind  of  work  was  necessary,  for  although  the 
prizes  were  rich  and  easily  made,  the  "  bulldog " 
might  be  back  at  any  moment.  For  this  reason  prize 
crews  were  ready,  at  the  word,  to  be  thrown  aboard 
the  prize,  run  her  to  leeward,  and  then  steer  in  differ- 
ent directions  so  as  to  divide  the  enemy's  attention. 

In  these  attacks  the  privateersman  operated  al- 
most without  danger  of  capture,  for  the  war  ships 
dared  not  pursue  too  far  away  from  their  convoy.  It 
has  happened  on  more  than  one  occasion  that  cap- 
tured merchantmen  have  been  so  hard  pressed  by 
the  escort  that  the  prize  crew  were  obliged  to 
abandon  the  prize  and  return  to  the  privateer  in 
their  boats,  the  war  ship  usually  being  content  with 
recovering  the  prize.  In  dogging  a  merchant  fleet 
across  the  Atlantic  the  privateersman  usually  can 
do  nothing  in  the  way  of  taking  prizes  if  the  weather 
is  fine,  but  should  it  come  on  thick,  or  a  strong  gale, 
he  has  a  golden  opportunity.  At  such  times  the 
merchantmen  become  widely  scattered,  and  the  deft 
privateer  runs  from  one  to  the  other,  making  easy 
capture.  As  a  rule,  the  specie  and  most  valuable 
goods  are  hastily  transferred  to  the  privateer,  a  prize 
crew  placed  aboard  the  merchantman  and  ordered 
to  some  port,  while  the  privateer  hastens  to  other 

The  second  method  of  sailing  in  war  time  was  to 
procure  swift-sailing  vessels,  heavily  armed  and 

20  PBIYATEEBS  AND  PMVATEBBSMEN.      1795-1813. 

manned,  which  could  rely  on  their  own  speed  or 
strength  to  avoid  the  clutches  of  a  privateer.  These 
vessels  usually  had  rich  cargoes,  and  several  Ameri- 
can privateers  were  fitted  out  for  the  express  pur- 
pose of  capturing  them,  with  the  result  that  many 
a  hard-fought  action  took  place. 

Early  in  the  War  of  1812  most  of  the  American 
privateers  were  small  pilot  boats,  but  it  was  soon 
found  that  they  were  too  weak  to  capture  the  aver- 
age trader,  as  most  of  the  English  merchantmen 
were  heavily  armed.  This  led  to  the  construction 
of  powerful,  swift-sailing  craft,  mounting  12-,  18-, 
24-,  and  even  36-pounders,  and  manned  by  one  hun- 
dred and  twenty  to  one  hundred  and  sixty  men — 
veritable  corvettes — which  were  sent  to  sea  at  pri- 
vate expense.  Of  this  class  were  the  privateers  Paul 
Jones,  Rosamond,  Saratoga,  General  Armstrong,  Yorfc- 
toion,  Anaconda,  Revenge,  Volunteer,  Rossie,  Reindeer, 
Avon,  and  BlaJceley.  Perhaps  the  most  formidable 
of  all  was  the  frigate-built  ship  America,  a  privateer 
which  was  purchased  in  France  in  1795  by  George 
Crowninshield  and  was  commissioned  as  a  privateer 
in  1802. 

Many  of  our  merchant  vessels,  transformed  into 
privateers,  proved  to  be  formidable  craft.  In  fact, 
a  large  proportion  of  them  were  built  with  a  view 
to  speed;  for,  thanks  to  British  interference  in 
our  mercantile  affairs,  the  American  shipowner 
had  found  it  preferable  to  sacrifice  a  little  carry- 
ing space  in  his  ships  to  additional  speed,  as  it 
would  enable  him  to  outsail  the  British  cruiser  and 
thus  avoid  disastrous  delays  and  degrading  impress- 
ment. Speed  in  the  American  merchant  marine  had 
been  fostered  also  by  the  forced  running  trade  to 
Prance  and  the  West  Indies,  so  that  when  the  War 
of  1812  broke  out  the  American  merchantman  found 
himself  abundantly  supplied  with  swift-sailing  ves- 
sels. It  was  just  this  circumstance  that  proved  to 
be  the  foundation  stone  of  the  marvelous  success  of 

1812-1815.  THE  SPEEDY  YANKEE  CRAFT.  21 

American  privateers  in  this  war.  The  ordinary  chan- 
nels of  commercial  enterprise  being  closed  by  hostili- 
ties, the  American  merchant  was  quick  to  turn  his 
energies  to  mounting  his  fast-sailing  vessels  with  a 
few  cannon,  and,  after  manning  them  with  a  large 
complement  of  officers  and  seamen,  sending  them  out 
in  quest  of  his  cousin's  ships.  Thus  it  was  that  ag- 
gressive British  impressment  on  the  high  seas,  several 
years  before  the  war,  had  caused  the  development  of 
a  fleet  of  American  merchant  ships  which  soon  proved 
to  be  a  terrible  scourge  in  the  hands  of  the  daring  and 
skillful  American  skipper. 



ORDINARILY  there  was  little  glory  or  sympathy 
for  the  privateersman.  The  navy  man  went  to  sea 
knowing  that  if  he  made  a  good  fight,  even  though  de- 
feated, his  professional  standing  would  in  no  way  be 
impaired;  on  the  contrary,  decidedly  improved.  He 
knew  that  if  he  fell  he,  at  least,  would  have  the  grate- 
ful record  of  history.  Almost  any  man  can  be  brave  if 
he  be  conscious  that  the  eye  of  the  world  is  upon  him. 
The  average  man  can  perform  deeds  of  heroism  when 
he  knows  that  substantial  rewards  and  professional 
advancement  are  in  store  for  him.  But  it  requires 
a  man  of  unusual  bravery  to  face  danger  unflinch- 
ingly when  he  realizes  that  no  one  will  be  cognizant 
of  his  deeds  save  the  immediate  participants,  and 
when  loss  of  life  or  limb  will  be  regarded  merely  as 
his  own  personal  misfortune. 

Our  privateersmen  did  not  have  the  stimulus  and 
advantages  of  an  organized  service.  They  left  port 
with  the  avowed  intention  of  plundering  the  enemy. 
If  they  were  successful,  their  only  reward  was  a 
division  of  the  spoils;  if  failure  attended  them,  they 
were  kicked  about  like  the  under  dog  in  the  fight 
"  Served  them  right,"  said  their  envious  brothers  on 
land.  "  They  wanted  to  get  rich  too  fast,  while  we 
poor  fellows  are  obliged  to  plod  along  in  the  usual 
slow,  poking  way."  If  the  officers  and  men  sacrificed 
life  or  limb  to  secure  a  prize,  no  pension  awaited 
them  or  their  families.  If  they  came  out  unscathed 

1776-1814.  ANT  "IMPUDENT  CAPTURE."  23 

they  were  rewarded,  perhaps,  with  a  cold  "thank 
you,"  and  received  their  share  of  the  profits  calcu- 
lated down  to  the  last  cent  with  mathematical  exact- 
ness. There  was  no  generous  Congress  to  vote  fifty 
thousand  dollars  to  them  if  they  sank  their  prize  in 
the  effort  to  capture  her,  as  was  the  case  with  the 
captors  of  the  Guerri&re  and  Java]  neither  could  they 
expect  twenty-five  thousand  dollars  if  they  lost  both 
prize  and  their  own  ship,  as  was  the  case  in  the 
Wasp-Frolic  fight. 

In  no  light  does  the  daring  of  our  privateersmen 
shine  more  resplendently  than  in  this.  They  went 
to  sea,  it  is  true,  for  mere  pelf,  but  in  many  instances 
they  performed  services  of  national  importance. 
Scores  of  American  seamen,  like  Reuben  James, 
John  Cheever,  Bartlett  Laffey,  and  John  McFarland 
won  imperishable  fame  by  acts  of  heroism  because 
they  were  performed  in  an  organized  service  and 
under  the  national  colors.  But  the  privateersman, 
although  materially  assisting  in  the  defense  of  the 
flag,  could  die  at  his  post  and  the  fact  might  easily 
pass  unrecorded.  A  commander  of  a  privateer  could 
capture  the  king's  cruisers,  thereby  inflicting  un- 
precedented shame  and  humiliation  on  the  Eoyal 
Navy,  and  the  incident  scarcely  would  be  known; 
while  the  owners  of  the  privateer  would  not  thank 
him  for  the  unwarranted  risk  he  ran,  as,  ordi- 
narily, there  was  nothing  to  be  got  out  of  a  war  ship 
except  hard  knocks  and  empty  holds.  Had  the  cap- 
ture been  made  by  an  officer  of  the  navy  in  the  Gov- 
ernment service  it  would  have  been  heralded  abroad, 
while  substantial  rewards  and  rapid  promotion 
would  have  followed. 

Under  these  circumstances  it  is  truly  surprising 
that  we  discover  acts  of  such  superb  bravery  among 
the  American  privateersmen,  yet  a  careful  research 
into  the  history  of  that  most  important  branch  of  our 
maritime  power  shows  that  it  is  replete  with  deeds 


privateersmen  is  related  with  characteristic  frank- 
ness in  a  London  periodical  of  the  year  1777:  "An 
American  privateer  of  twelve  guns  came  into  one  of 
the  ports  of  the  Jersey  Islands,  in  the  English  Chan- 
nel, yesterday  morning,  tacked  about  on  the  firing  of 
the  guns  from  the  castle,  and  just  off  the  island  took 
a  large  brig  bound  for  this  port,  which  they  have 
since  carried  into  Cherbourg.  The  American  priva- 
teer had  the  impudence  to  send  her  boat  in  the  dusk 
of  the  evening  to  a  little  island  off  here  called  Jetto, 
and  unluckily  carried  off  the  lieutenant  of  Northley's 
Independent  Company  with  the  garrison  adjutant, 
who  were  shooting  rabbits  for  their  diversion.  The 
brig  they  took  is  valued  at  thirty-five  thousand  dol- 

Charles  W.  Goldsborough,  who  during  the  first 
twenty  years  of  the  navy's  existence  as  a  separate 
department  acted  as  its  chief  clerk,  relates  that  dur- 
ing one  of  the  many  battles  between  British  cruisers 
and  American  privateers  a  cannon  ball  came  aboard 
the  latter,  and,  after  spending  its  force  in  smashing 
things  up  indiscriminately,  rolled  along  the  deck  not 
quite  decided  what  to  do  next.  An  American  sailor 
picked  it  up  and  wrote  on  it  with  a  piece  of  chalk, 
"Postpaid  and  returned  with  the  compliments  of 
Yankee  Doodle; "  then  putting  the  shot  in  a  cannon 
fired  it  back  to  its  owners. 

In  privateers  speed  was  a  great  and  ruling  con- 
sideration, and  in  their  efforts  to  attain  it  the  build- 
ers— having  no  Government  or  public  opinion  to 
check  them — were  apt  to  get  their  craft  dangerously 
top-heavy.  This  eagerness  to  acquire  speed  resulted 
disastrously  in  the  case  of  the  privateer  Arrow?,  Cap- 
tain E.  Conkling,  of  New  York.  She  is  described  as 
a  beautiful  brig  mounting  fourteen  guns  and  carry- 
ing a  complement  of  one  hundred  and  fifty  men. 
Sailing  from  New  York  January  14, 1815,  she  cruised 
some  time  in  the  West  Indies.  After  leaving  one  of 
those  ports  she  was  never  heard  of,  and,  being  heavily 

1777-1815.  DANGER  FROM  PRISONERS.  25 

spared,  the  opinion  was  generally  expressed  that  she 
was  capsized,  either  in  a  squall  or  during  a  chase. 

Another  danger  to  which  we  may  allude  as  being 
peculiar  to  privateersmen  was  that  of  prisoners  ris^ 
ing  and  overpowering  their  captors.  This  danger 
was  especially  great  during  long  and  prosperous  voy- 
ages, when  the  privateer's  complement  was  weakened 
by  drafts  for  prize  crews,  and  when  usually  there 
was  a  larger  number  of  prisoners  in  the  ship  than 
there  was  of  the  crew.  A  striking  illustration  of  this 
is  had  in  the  case  of  the  privateer  sloop  Eagle,  of  Con- 
necticut. This  vessel  carried  six  guns  and  thirty 
men,  also  commanded  by  a  Captain  E.  Conkling.  In 
a  single  cruise  she  captured  six  vessels,  "one  to  every 
gun,"  that  being  the  acme  of  privateering  luck  as 
expressed  by  the  tars  of  that  day.  A  privateer  that 
made  more  prizes  than  the  number  of  giins  she  car- 
ried was  regarded  as  sailing  in  very  dangerous 
waters,  and  was,  perhaps,  quite  as  objectionable  as 
one  that  had  made  fewer  captures.  So  that  by  cap- 
turing six  vessels,  or  one  for  every  gun  in  the  sloop, 
it  will  be  seen  that  the  Eagle,  on  this  venture,  had 
reached  the  climax  of  privateering  success. 

It  was  unfortunate  for  her  that  she  took  so  many 
prizes,  for  by  manning  them  all  she  had  reduced  her 
complement  to  fifteen  men,  besides  which  were  a 
large  number  of  prisoners  aboard.  Taking  advan- 
tage of  a  favorable  opportunity,  these  prisoners  rose 
on  their  captors,  overpowered  them,  and,  putting  all 
but  two  boys  to  death,  made  away  with  the  ship. 
They  had  not  gone  far,  however,  before  they  were  re- 
captured by  the  American  privateer  Hancock.  In  the 
following  year  the  Eagle  was  blown  up  in  New  York. 

A  case  somewhat  similar  to  this  was  that  of  the 
privateeer  Yankee,  Captain  Johnson,  of  Massachu- 
setts. This  craft  carried  nine  guns,  sixteen  swivels, 
and  forty-three  men.  She  was  one  of  the  first  to  get 
to  sea  in  the  war  for  American  independence.  Leav- 

26  DAffGEES  PECULIAR  TO  PKIVATEERINa.  1778-1812. 

in  July  captured  the  merchant  ships  CreigJiton  and 
Zachara,  laden  with  rum  and  sugar.  Placing  prize 
crews  in  these  vessels,  Captain  Johnson  was  continu- 
ing his  cruise  in  their  company  when  the  prisoners 
in  the  prizes  rose,  secured  their  captors  and  their 
vessel,  and  then  joined  in  an  attack  on  the  Yankee. 
Being  short-handed,  through  manning  his  prizes, 
Captain  Johnson  was  compelled  to  surrender.  He 
was  taken  to  Dover  with  his  men  and  imprisoned. 

Our  privateersmen  were  especially  exposed  to  the 
anger  of  British  naval  officers,  and  there  were  but 
few  instances  in  which  they  were  treated  much  better 
than  pirates.  On  December  1,  1812,  the  privateer 
Jack's  Favorite,  Captain  Miller,  of  New  York,  put  into 
St.  Barts  for  provisions.  A  few  days  later  the  British 
12-gun  war  schooner  Subtle,  Captain  Brown,  entered 
the  same  port,  and  her  commander  boasted,  in  the 
presence  of  a  number  of  merchants  and  others,  that 
he  would  "  follow  and  take  the  damned  Yankee  priva- 
teer if  he  went  to  hell  for  her."  When  Captain  Miller 
sailed  out  of  the  harbor,  the  Subtle  followed  and  gave 
chase.  Not  wishing  to  engage  a  man-of-war,  the 
Americans  carried  a  press  of  sail,  and  the  English- 
men also  spread  all  the  canvas  their  craft  could  stand 
under.  While  the  two  vessels  were  staggering  under 
the  pressure,  a  squall  came  up.  The  Americans 
adroitly  took  in  their  canvas  so  as  to  receive  the 
brunt  of  the  blow  under  bare  poles,  but  their  pursuer 
was  capsized.  In  a  few  minutes  the  squall  blew  over, 
and  Captain  Miller,  failing  to  discover  the  slightest 
trace  of  his  foe,  was  moved  by  motives  of  humanity 
to  retrace  his  course.  On  reaching  the  spot  where 
the  Subtle  was  last  seen  he  found  a  few  caps  and  ham- 
mocks floating  in  the  water.  This  was  all  that  was 
left  of  the  Subtle,  all  of  her  people  having  gone  down 
with  her. 

Little  or  nothing  was  done  to  pension  or  assist 
the  families  of  unfortunate  privateers  in  our  war  for 
independence,  but  on  June  5, 1813,  the  Navy  Depart- 


menr  issued  the  following  order:  "To  enable  those 
who  may  be  wounded  or  disabled  in  any  engagement 
with  the  enemy  to  obtain  certificates  entitling  them 
to  pensions,  the  like  regulations  and  restrictions  as 
are  used  in  relation  to  the  navy  of  the  United  States 
are  to  be  observed,  to  wit:  That  the  commanding 
officer  of  every  vessel  having  a  commission,  or  letters 
of  marque  or  reprisal,  cause  to  be  given  to  any  officer 
or  seaman  who,  during  his  cruise,  shall  have  been 
wounded  or  disabled  as  aforesaid,  a  certificate  of  the 
surgeon  on  board,  to  be  approved  and  signed  by  such 
commanding  officer,  describing  the  nature  and  de- 
gree, as  far  as  practicable,  of  such  wound  or  dis- 
ability, naming  his  place  of  residence  and  the  rate 
of  wages,  if  any,  to  which  he  was  entitled  at  the  time 
of  receiving  such  wound  or  disability;  and  that  such 
certificate  be  transmitted  to  this  department. 

"  The  widows  (or  orphans,  where  the  wife  is  dead) 
of  those  persons  who  may  be  slain  in  any  engage- 
ment with  the  enemy,  on  board  such  vessels,  will  be 
entitled  to  pension  certificates  upon  forwarding  to 
this  office  proof  from  the  commanding  officer  of  the 
vessel  to  which  such  persons  were  attached  of  their 
having  been  slain  as  aforesaid,  and  the  -certificate  of 
a  justice  of  the  peace  for  the  county  in  which  such 
widows  or  orphans  may  reside  that  they  actually 
stand  in  that  relation  to  the  deceased." 



THE  first  American  sea  fight  of  which  we  have 
record  was  in  the  nature  of  a  private  enterprise.  In 
May,  1636,  Mr.  Oldham,  while  sailing  in  Long  Island 
Sound,  near  Plum  Island,  in  a  trading  vessel,  was 
murdered  by  the  Narragansett  Indians  and  his  vessel 
seized.  Scarcely  had  the  savages  taken  possession 
of  their  prize  when  John  Gallop,  who  also  was  cruis- 
ing in  that  vicinity  in  a  twenty-ton  sloop,  came  upon 
the  scene  and  recognized  the  vessel  as  Mr.  Oldham's, 
the  latter  having  sailed  only  a  few  days  before  with 
a  crew  of  two  white  boys  and  two  Narragansett  In- 
dians. Approaching  Oldham's  vessel  Gallop  hailed, 
and  receiving,  no  answer  he  ran  close  alongside  and 
discovered  fourteen  Indians  lying  on  the  deck  appar- 
ently endeavoring  to  avoid  detection. 

Noticing  that  a  canoe  manned  by  Indians  and 
loaded  with  goods  was  leaving  the  craft,  Gallop  was 
convinced  that  something  was  wrong.  This  belief 
was  strengthened  when  the  savages  in  the  vessel 
slipped  the  cable  and  attempted  to  make  off  in  the 
direction  of  Narragansett  Bay.  Gallop  now  fired  a 
volley  from  his  small  arms  into  the  vessel.  The  sav- 
ages being  armed,  for  the  most  part,  with  spears, 
knives,  and  tomahawks,  were  quickly  driven  below, 
only  the  few  possessing  firearms  making  any  show  of 
fight,  and  these  also  quickly  sought  the  protection  of 
the  hold.  Fearing  to  board  in  the  presence  of  so 
many  enemies  Gallop  maneuvered  so  as  to  run  the 


1686.  OUR  FIRST  SEA  FIQET.  29 

vessel  down,  and  in  a  few  minutes  succeeded  in  giv- 
ing her  a  blow  with  his  prow  that  sent  her  careening 
on  her  beam  ends.  Thinking  that  their  prize  was 
about  to  capsize,  six  of  the  Indians  ran  on  deck,  threw 
themselves  into  the  sea,  and  were  drowned. 

Gallop  now  rigged  his  anchor  over  the  bow  in  such 
a  manner  that  the  fluke  would  act  as  a  spur  which 
might  pierce  the  thin  sides  of  Oldham's  vessel.  Fill- 
ing away  Gallop  again  rammed,  the  anchor  fluke 
crashing  through  the  side  of  the  prize.  The  white 
men  then  began  firing  down  the  hold,  but,  finding 
that  this  did  not  dislodge  the  remaining  natives,  Gal- 
lop sheered  off  and  prepared  to  bunt  again.  Before 
this  could  be  done,  three  or  four  more  Indians  rushed 
to  the  deck  and  jumped  into  the  sea,  where  they  also 
perished.  One  Indian  now  appeared  and  made  signs 
of  submission.  He  was  taken  aboard  the  sloop,  and, 
being  bound,  was  placed  in  the  hold.  Then  another 
Indian  offered  to  submit.  He  was  taken  aboard,  but 
fearing  that  the  savages  might  arrange  some  plan 
for  overpowering  him  Gallop  caused  him  to  be  thrown 
into  the  sea. 

There  were  now  only  a  few  Indians  remaining 
aboard  the  prize,  but  they  were  armed,  and  occupy- 
ing a  small  apartment  below,  where  they  could  not 
be  easily  reached,  they  prepared  to  sell  their  lives 
dearly.  Removing  all  the  goods  in  the  prize  to  his 
ship,  Gallop  hauled  up  for  the  Connecticut  shore  with 
the  sloop  in  tow.  As  the  wind  increased  soon  after- 
ward, the  tow  was  cut  adrift,  and  finally  went  ashore 
somewhere  in  Narragansett  Bay.  Oldham's  body, 
horribly  mutilated  and  still  warm,  had  been  discov- 
ered by  Gallop.  When  the  news  of  this  affair  reached 
the  authorities  in  Massachusetts  an  expedition  was 
sent  out  under  Mr.  Endicott,  and  the  Narragansett 
Indians  were  severely  punished. 

In  1645  a  colonial  ship  carrying  fourteen  guns  and 
thirty  men  had  an  all-day  fight  with  a  rover  of  Bar- 
bary  which  is  said  to  have  carried  twenty  guns  and 


seventy  men.  The  action  took  place  near  the  Straits 
of  Gibraltar.  Night  put  an  end  to  the  struggle  and 
the  vessels  separated,  the  rover  with  a  loss  of  her 
rudder.  The  American  ship  was  built  at  Cambridge, 
Massachusetts,  and  had  been  trading  in  the  Canaries. 

For  the  first  hundred  years  and  more  after  the 
establishing  of  the  colonies  in  the  New  World,  the  dis- 
tinction between  privateers,  slavers,  pirates,  and  even 
Government  cruisers  was  vague,  and  at  times  obliter- 
ated altogether.  It  was  a  period  in  which,  on  the 
high  seas,  might  was  right;  and  when  their  home 
Governments  were  at  war  with  each  other — and  some- 
times when  at  peace — the  colonial  seaman  seized 
whatever  he,  could,  whether  he  was  a  pirate,  priva- 
teersman,  or  a  king's  officer.  The  astonishing  growth 
of  commerce  in  the  New  World  made  it  a  tempting 
field  for  depredations  of  every  kind,  and  the  result 
was  that  high-handed  proceedings  on  the  open  sea 
was  the  rule  rather  than  the  exception.  As  a  result 
of  this  chaotic  state,  the  colonists  found  themselves 
compelled  to  maintain  cruisers  at  their  own  expense, 
while  traders  were  as  carefully  prepared  for  fighting 
as  for  carrying  merchandise. 

In  some  seaports  there  was  a  general  connivance 
on  the  part  of  the  people  at  this  state  of  affairs  so 
long  as  the  depredations  were  directed  against 
"  others."  At  Charleston,  South  Carolina,  pirates  of 
all  degrees  walked  the  streets  with  impunity.  Men 
well  known  for  their  participation  in  piratical  deeds 
were  welcomed  by  those  among  whom  they  spent 
their  ill-gotten  gains.  In  some  cases  they  were  tried, 
but  the  juries  always  managed  to  return  a  negative 

One  authority  says:  "It  is  true  that  as  long  as 
the  pirates  preyed  on  Spanish  ships,  and  were  free  in 
spending  Spanish  gold  and  silver  in  Charleston,  they 
were  welcomed  there,  at  least  by  those  who  were 
beneficiaries.  The  authorities  frowned,  not  very 
darkly,  it  is  true,  and  made  feeble  efforts  to  suppress 

1645.  WINKING  AT  PIRACY.  31 

these  visitors;  but  the  juries  were  made  up  of  the 
people,  and  then,  as  now,  public  sentiment  ruled,  the 
law  to  the  contrary  notwithstanding.  Of  course, 
piracy  was  illegal  whether  the  colonists  were  the  suf- 
ferers or  not;  but  it  was  difficult  for  the  authorities 
to  obtain  proof  of  the  guilt  of  these  men,  and  they 
could  not  be  punished  on  suspicion — a  provision  of 
the  law  which  the  public  commended.  Many  of  the 
pirates  came  and  went  without  question;  others 
against  whom  charges  were  made  gave  security  for 
good  behavior  till  the  Lords  Proprietors  could  grant 
a  general  pardon.  And  no  trouble  was  taken  to  ob* 
serve  how  they  behaved  themselves  when  away  from 
Charleston.  Governor  Ludwell  was  ordered  to 
change  the  manner  of  securing  juries  so  as  to  enable 
the  authorities  to  convict  the  pirates,  and  the  Pro- 
prietors ordered  that  they  be  tried  under  the  laws 
of  England,  which  were  more  severe  than  those  of 
Carolina.  But  by  lavish  expenditure  of  money  the 
sea  robbers  made  so  many  friends  that  it  was  diffi- 
cult even  to  bring  them  to  trial  and  impossible  to 
convict.  They  secured  the  best  legal  talent  in  the 
colony,  and  their  strong  defense  by  the  prominent 
and  influential  men  who  were  the  lawyers  in  those 
days  had  its  effect  upon  that  class  which  made  up 
the  juries. 

"  Many  of  the  pirates  retired  on  their  fortunes, 
purchased  lands  in  the  colony  about  Charleston,  and 
made  their  homes  there,  becoming  subjects  of  King 
George,  and  doubtless  leading  honest  lives.  While 
it  is  now  impossible  to  ascertain  those  among  the 
law-abiding  citizens  of  South  Carolina  whose  pa- 
ternal ancestors  harassed  the  Spanish  shipowners 
two  hundred  years  ago,  it  is  quite  certain  that  many 
of  the  taxpayers  in  this  State  could  claim  that  dis- 
tinction. But  the  condition  of  piracy  can  not  be 
measured  by  present  lights.  In  those  times  of  almost 
incessant  war,  when  one  Government  commissioned 
individuals  to  rove  the  seas  and  rob  its  enemies'  ships 

82  COLONIAL  PRIVATEERS.  1706-1699. 

of  commerce,  the  step  from  the  privateer  to  the  pirate 
was  natural,  and  the  moral  difference  not  very 
marked.  Men  of  very  good  family  became  pirates 
because  they  loved  adventure;  it  was  profitable  if 
they  were  not  hanged,  and  they  had  nothing  to  do  at 
home  except  fight." 

We  can  better  understand  this  leniency  toward 
the  outlaws  when  we  remember  that  in  the  Spanish 
attack  on  Charleston  in  1706  the  authorities  did  not 
scruple  calling  on  these  "  desperate  "  men  to  enlist 
in  the  vessels  hastily  prepared  for  defense  of  the  town. 
The  Spanish  force,  commanded  by  a  French  admiral, 
consisted  of  four  war  ships  and  a  galley.  To  oppose 
them  Lieutenant-Colonel  Rhett,  with  a  commission  of 
vice-admiral,  collected  all  the  armed  vessels  in  port 
and  offered  battle,  but  the  enemy,  having  suffered 
reverses  on  shore,  fled  precipitately.  A  few  days 
afterward  the  colonists  learned  that  a  large  ship  be- 
longing to  the  enemy  was  on  the  coast.  Going  out 
with  two  of  his  vessels,  Ehett  captured  her.1 

It  was  when  these  rovers  of  the  seas  began  to 
plunder  the  colonists  themselves  that  real  steps  were 
taken  to  put  a  stop  to  their  unlawful  practices.  In 
1699  the  culture  of  rice  in  Carolina  had  developed 
to  such  proportions  that  there  were  not  enough  ships 
available  to  transport  the  commodity  to  England.  In 
that  year  a  piratical  ship  was  fitted  in  the  West  In- 
dies and  captured  several  vessels  bound  for  Charles- 
ton, their  crews  being  sent  ashore  in  boats.  Owing 
to  a  quarrel  over  the  division  of  booty  nine  of  the 
pirates  were  set  on  shore,  and,  making  their  way  to 
Charleston,  were  recognized  by  some  of  the  men  cap- 
tured in  the  merchant  vessels.  The  enormity  of 
piracy  was  then  apparent  to  the  colonists,  and  these 
men  were  seized  and  seven  of  them  were  hanged, 
while  the  other  two  were  imprisoned. 

1  For  the  several  expeditions  against  the  French  in  Canada  see 
Maclay's  History  of  the  Navy,  vol.  i,  pp.  7-13, 

1718,  STEED  BONNETT.  33 

Early  in. the  eighteenth  century  a  nest  of  pirates 
was  established  on  the  island  of  Providence,  in  the 
Bahamas,  from  which  place  they  sent  out  ships  to 
prey  on  commerce.  Another  headquarters  of  the  sea 
robbers  was  opened  near  the  mouth  of  Cape  Fear 
Eiver,  and  for  many  years  these  parts  of  the  Atlantic 
were  completely  in  their  possession.  Shipowners  in 
England  in  1718  appealed  to  the  Crown,  and  Captain 
Woods  Rogers  sailed  against  Providence  with  sev- 
eral war  ships.  At  that  time  it  was  estimated  that 
there  were  several  hundred  men  on  the  island,  and 
all  but  one  hundred  of  them  accepted  the  king's  par- 
don and  gave  up  the  unlawful  practice.  The  re- 
mainder, under  the  leadership  of  Captain  Vane,  es- 
caped in  a  vessel,  and,  sailing  up  the  coast,  captured 
two  merchantmen  from  Charleston  bound  for  London. 

Learning  that  two  piratical  ships  had  put  into 
Cape  Pear  Eiver,  Governor  Johnson  commissioned 
Colonel  Ehett  to  command  a  war  ship  fitted  up  for 
the  purpose  and  sail  against  these  outlaws.  One  of 
the  two  piratical  craft  was  a  sloop  carrying  ten  guns 
and  commanded  by  Captain  Steed  Bonnett,  "  a  hand- 
some young  fellow,"  who  was  said  to  be  a  member  of 
an  old  English  family.  Being  reckless  and  wild  he 
had  chosen  to  be  a  pirate  chief.  The  second  vessel, 
commanded  by  Eichard  Worley,  carried  only  six  guns. 
These  two  rovers  had  been  in  the  habit  of  boldly 
cruising  off  Charleston  harbor  for  days  at  a  time  and 
in  plain  sight  of  the  town,  waiting  for  the  first  mer- 
chantman that  might  venture  out. 

At  the  time  Ehett  sailed,  Steed  Bonnett  was  doing 
duty  in  the  blockading  vessel.  On  making  out  the 
force  of  Ehett's  ship  Bonnett  sailed  for  Cape  Fear 
Eiver,  hotly  pursued.  When  within  the  entrance  of 
the  river  Ehett  came  up  with  the  pirate,  and  after 
firing  a  few  shots  induced  the  freebooter  to  haul 
down  his  flag.  Before  consenting  to  give  themselves 
up,  however,  the  pirates  stipulated,  under  threats  of 
blowing  up  their  ship  and  involving  their  captors  in 

34  COLONIAL  PRIVATEERS.  1646-1666. 

the  explosion,  that  they  should  receive  no  punishment 
for  their  offenses.  Ehett  could  only  promise  that  he 
would  use  his  influence  in  their  behalf,  upon  which 
the  pirates,  to  the  number  of  forty,  were  brought  into 
Charleston  with  their  sloop. 

Governor  Johnson  then  sailed  in  search  of  Worley, 
taking  command  of  the  colonial  cruiser  in  person. 
He  met  the  piratical  craft  about  seventy-five  miles 
north  of  Charleston  and  a  desperate  action  immedi- 
ately was  begun.  The  pirates  fought  with  the  ferocity 
of  despair,  well  knowing  the  fate  that  awaited  them 
in  case  of  capture.  Although  much  inferior  nr  force 
they  inflicted  great  damage  in  the  colonial  cruiser, 
killing  a  number  of  men  and  wounding  more.  Final- 
ly, every  man  in  the  piratical  craft  was  killed  or  dis- 
abled, saving  Worley  himself  and  his  second  in  com- 
mand. These  two  fought  a  gun  until  desperately 
wounded,  when  they  surrendered.  They  were  taken 
into  Charleston  and  hanged. 

In  the  case  of  Steed  Bonnett  there  were  the  old- 
time  delays  and  legal  hitches,  so  that  it  was  about  a 
year  after  his  capture  before  he  was  hanged.  His 
forty  companions,  however,  were  promptly  executed 
after  conviction,  which  was  a  few  days  after  their  ar- 
rival in  port.  They  were  all  hanged  on  the  same  day, 
on  the  spot  where  the  beautiful  Battery  now  is,  and 
their  bodies  were  buried  a  few  yards  away,  below  high 
water,  in  the  Ashley  River. 

As  early  as  1646  the  colony  of  New  Haven  caused 
a  vessel  of  one  hundred  and  fifty  tons  to  be  built  at 
Ehode  Island  for  the  purpose  of  protecting  her  com- 
merce. This  craft  was  lost  at  sea  on  her  first  cruise. 
Soon  afterward  the  settlements  of  Hartford  and  New 
Haven  united  in  fitting  out  a  vessel  carrying  ten  guns 
and  forty  men  to  cruise  in  Long  Island  Sound  for  pro- 
tection against  the  Dutch  and  against  "  all  other  evil- 
doers." Connecticut,  in  1665-?66,  maintained  an 
armed  vessel  at  Watch  Hill  to  prevent  the  Narragan- 
sett  Indians  from  crossing  and  attacking  the  Montauk 

The  pirates  fought  with  the  ferocity  of  despair. 


tribe.  In  view  of  the  fact  that  by  1676  Massachusetts 
alone  had  constructed  over  seven  hundred  vessels, 
varying  in  tonnage  from  six  to  two  hundred  and  fifty 
tons,  and  Connecticut  boasted  of  one  thousand  tons  of 
shipping,  it  is  not  strange  that  we  find  the  colonial 
governments  fitting  out  war  craft  at  their  own  ex- 
pense, and  that  merchants  armed  their  vessels  with 

It  was  not  long  before  buccaneers  began  to  scent 
this  rich  booty.  This  class  of  sea  rovers  seems  tp  have 
originated  in  the  West  Indies.  They  were  outlaws 
who  swarmed  around  Tortugas,  and  at  first  contented 
themselves  by  attacking  vessels  from  the  shore.  Ben- 
dered  bold  by  their  first  successes  they  increased  in 
numbers,  and  gradually  ventured  farther,  until  they 
began  to  infest  the  entire  North  American  coast. 
Less  than  a  dozen  years  after  the  landing  of  the  Pil- 
grims, one  David  Bull,  with  a  crew  of  fifteen  English- 
men, committed  acts  of  piracy  on  New  England  fisher- 
men, and  even  attacked  settlements.  With  a  view  to 
capturing  him  and  guarding  against  other  freebooters 
the  Blessing  of  the  Bay,  a  bark  of  thirty  tons,  in  1632, 
was  launched.  Before  this  boat  could  get  to  sea,  how- 
ever, the  fishermen  themselves  had  manned  several 
pinnaces  and  shallops,  in  which  they  made  three  ex- 
peditions in  search  of  the  marauders,  but  without 

It  is  probable,  however,  that  the  charges  against 
Bull  were  somewhat  exaggerated,  as  the  stern  Puri- 
tans were  apt  to  regard  levity  of  any  kind  as  some- 
thing akin  to  crime.  It  is  stated  that  one  of  the 
"  serious  accusations  "  against  Bull  and  his  men  was 
that  when  the  New  England  fishermen  assembled  on 
deck  at  the  hour  of  prayer  Bull  caused  his  men  to 
sing  boisterous  songs  and  shout  meaningless  phrases, 
which  might  well  horrify  the  strict  Puritan,  who  has 
been  known  to  condemn  women  to  death  on  the  mere 
suspicion  of  witchcraft.  A  certain  Stone  also  was 
seized  by  the  New  Englanders  in  1633  and  bounden 

36  COLONIAL  PRIVATEERS.  1696-1701, 

to  appear  at  the  Admiralty  courts  in  England,  as 
being  somehow  connected  with  piracy.  The  grand 
jury  discharged  him,  and  it  is  believed  that  the  real 
cause  of  his  arrest  was  a  charge  of  adultery. 

The  case  of  Captain  William  Kidd  is  a  good  illus- 
tration of  the  general  looseness  on  the  high  seas  at 
this  time.    A  large  number  of  privateers  had  beei 
fitted  out  at  New  York,  and  there  were  reasons  tc 
believe  that  they  did  not  always  confine  their  atten 
tions  to  the  enemy's  commerce,  but  appropriated 
goods  of  the  colonists.   With  a  view  to  checking  thes< 
depredations  a  privateer  was  fitted  out,  with  sanctioi 
of  the  Government,  and  Captain  Kidd  was  placed  ii 
command  of  her.    In  this  enterprise  the  High  Lore 
Chancellor  and  several  other  distinguished  noblemei 
had  shares,  while  one  tenth  of  the  profits  were  to  re 
vert  to  the  Crown.    The  vessel  sailed  from  Plymouth 
England,  in  1696,  but  instead  of  directing  his  energie 
against  the  lawless  privateers  and  pirates  on  th 
American  coast  Kidd  spent  three  years  in  the  Indiai 
Ocean  plundering  the  commerce  of  all  nations.     H 
finally  turned  his  prow  toward  America,  and,  anchoi 
ing  in  Gardiner's  Bay,  buried  some  of  his  treasure 
on  Gardiner's  Island,  which  for  many  years  has  bee: 
owned  by  a  family  of  that  name.    Kidd  intrusted  Mi 
Gardiner  with  his  secret  and  then  sailed  away,  burj 
ing  other  treasures  at  different  points  along  the  shor< 

Kidd  then  paid  and  discharged  his  crew,  and,  ai 
pearing  in  Boston  in  1699,  was  arrested.  Among  hi 
papers  was  found  a  list  of  his  buried  treasures,  an 
when  the  officials  presented  themselves  to  Mr.  Ga: 
diner  the  rover's  box  of  booty  was  recovered.  Th 
plunder  consisted  of  bags  of  gold  dust,  gold  and  silv« 
bars,  jewelry,  lamps,  etc.;  in  all  valued  at  aboi 
twenty  thousand  dollars.  Kidd  was  sent  to  Bnglan 
and  tried,  and  it  is  a  curious  commentary  on  the  tim< 
to  note  that,  on  May  9, 1701,  he  was  executed,  not  fc 
piracy,  but  on  the  charge  of  killing  one  of  his  ow 


We  can  easily  believe  that  such  a  career  as  that  of 
Captain  Kidd's  was  possible— and  that  many  other 
similar  depredations,  on  a  smaller  scale,  were  per- 
petrated— when  we  come  to  investigate  the  condition 
of  society  in  the  colonies  during  this  period,  for  it 
appears  that  not  only  were  the  privateersmen  lawless 
on  the  high  seas,  but  were  quite  as  unruly  when  in 
port.  Many  murders  in  which  this  class  of  mariners 
acted  as  principals  were  committed  in  the  streets  of 
New  York,  so  that  it  was  unsafe  for  citizens  to  appear 
when  any  considerable  number  of  these  craft  were  in 

On  the  night  of  September  19,  1705,  an  unusually 
large  number  of  privateers  happened  to  be  in  the  har- 
bor, many  of  them  recently  returned  from  successful 
voyages,  and  as  a  consequence  the  ale  and  wine 
houses  were  crowded  and  the  streets  were  filled  with 
drunken,  boisterous,  and  dangerous  gangs  of  seamen 
ready  for  any  mischief  in  which  to  engage  their 
whipped-up  energies.  One  of  the  many  disturbances 
took  place  in  front  of  a  house  in  which  the  sheriff  of 
New  York  lived.  As  he  was  endeavoring  to  disperse 
the  mob  that  official  was  set  upon  and  beaten,  while 
several  citizens  who  came  to  his  assistance  were  seri- 
ously wounded.  In  a  short  time  privateersmen  from 
various  parts  of  the  town  met  in  front  of  the  sheriff's 
house  and  assumed  such  a  threatening  tone  that 
troops  from  the  fort  were  sent  to  repress  them.  At 
the  same  time  the  sheriff,  together  with  some  men  be- 
longing to  the  British  war  ships  in  port,  hastened  to 
the  scene  of  trouble. 

Unfortunately,  before  these  several  bodies  repre- 
senting law  and  order  could  get  together,  the  priva- 
teersmen met  Lieutenant  Wharton  Featherstone 
Hough  and  Ensign  Alcock,  two  officers  of  Colonel 
Livesay's  regiment,  which  had  just  arrived  in  the 
Jamaica  fleet.  These  men  were  peaceably  returning 
to  their  lodgings  when. they  fell  in  with  the  rioting 
seamen.  The  ensign  was  knocked  down  several  times 

38  COLONIAL  PRIVATEERS.  1718-177* 

and  badly  bruised.  His  sword  was  taken  from  him 
and  it  is  believed  that  this  was  the  weapon  which  wa 
thrust  through  Lieutenant  Hough's  heart  a  momen 
later,  killing  him  instantly. 

At  this  juncture  the  privateer smen  were  set  upoi 
by  the  sheriff's  posse  and  by  the  man-of-warsmen,  an< 
a  general  fight  took  place.  The  discipline  of  th 
trained  seamen  soon  prevailed  over  the  unorganized 
gang  of  rioters,  and  in  a  few  minutes  the  latter  wer 
fleeing  in  all  directions,  leaving  a  number  of  thei 
comrades  dead  in  the  street,  besides  several  wounde< 
and  a  number  as  prisoners.  Most  of  these  privateers 
men  were  from  the  private  armed  brigantine  Dragor 
Captain  Ginks. 

The  behavior  of  the  American  privateersman  whil 
in  port,  however,  was  no  worse  than  that  of  his  cousi: 
across  the  sea.  English  accounts  state  that  even  a 
late  as  1778  there  was  great  difficulty  in  maintainin 
order  in  the  city  of  Liverpool  when  any  considerabl 
number  of  privateersmen  was  in  port.  One  recor 
says:  "  The  privateersmen,  when  they  came  into  por 
were  the  terror  of  the  town,  and  committed  man 
excesses.  So  outrageous  did  their  conduct  becom 
that  in  1778  the  mayor  of  Liverpool  issued  a  procb 
mation  cautioning  these  lawless  persons  that  h 
would  in  future  call  in  the  aid  of  the  military  for  th 
protection  of  the  lives  and  property  of  the  peaceabl 

Piracy  increased  rather  than  diminished  on  th 
North  American  coast  after  the  peace  of  1713;  th 
ship  WMdan,  of  twenty-three  guns  and  one  hundre 
and  thirty  men,  under  the  command  of  Captai 
Samuel  Bellamy,  seizing  vessels  off  the  New  Englan 
coast  as  late  as  1717.  His  career  was  cut  short  b 
a  storm,  in  which  his  vessel  was  wrecked  off  Cap 
Cod,  more  than  one  hundred  bodies  being  washe 
ashore.  Six  of  his  men  who  escaped  the  sea  wei 
seized,  tried  in  Boston,  and  executed.  These  drasti 
measures  did  much  toward  clearing  the  coast  of  fre 

1728-1745.       ACTIVITY  Otf  EARLY  PB1VATEERS.  39 

booters,  but  did  not  exterminate  them  entirely,  for  we 
find  that  in  1723  a  British  sloop  of  war  entered  New- 
port with  twenty-five  pirates  who  were  sentenced  to 
be  hanged. 

After  the  peace  of  Utrecht  most  of  the  colonies 
maintained  small  armed  vessels  for  the  protection  of 
their  coasts  and  commerce,  some  of  their  commanders 
afterward  entering  the  Eoyal  Navy.  One  of  these 
officers  was  Captain  Wooster,  of  Connecticut,  who 
was  killed  in  the  Revolution,  at  Danbury,  while  hold- 
ing the  rank  of  brigadier-general.  When  England 
declared  war  against  Spain  in  1739  many  American 
armed  vessels  were  employed  as  transports. 

It  was  in  the  war  against  France,  which  broke  out 
in  1744,  that  American  privateers  first  began  seri- 
ously to  assert  themselves  as  a  distinctive  sea  force. 
Besides  the  highly  important  part  they  played  in  the 
expedition  against  Louisburg,1  a  large  number  of 
privateers  put  to  sea  on  their  own  responsibility  and 
made  independent  cruises  against  the  enemy.  The 
profits  resulting  from  some  of  these  ventures  were 
enormous,  it  frequently  happening  that  a  single  cruise 
netted  a  common  sailor  one  hundred  pounds,  while 
in  one  instance  it  is  recorded  that  one  hundred  and 
sixty  pounds  were  realized  by  each  seaman — a  re- 
spectable fortune  for  a  sailor  in  those  days. 

After  the  20-gun  ship  Shirley,  Captain  Eouse,  had 
completed  her  work  in  the  Louisburg  expedition,  May, 
1745,  she  separated  from  her  consorts  and  captured 
eight  French  vessels,  two  of  which  made  a  deter- 
mined resistance.  For  this  service  Captain  Rouse 
received  a  captain's  commission  in  the  king's  service. 

In  June,  1744,  the  privateers  Hester  and  Polly  en- 
tered New  York  harbor  with  a  prize,  a  new  brig  laden 
with  cocoa,  the  share  of  each  American  sailor  being 
eleven  thousand  pounds  of  the  cargo. 

In  August  of  the  following  year  the  privateer 

i  See  Maolay's  History  of  the  Nayy,  yoL  i,  pp.  10-18. 

40  COLONIAL  PE1VATBEBS.  1745-1746. 

Clinton  brought  into  the  same  port  La  Pomona,  a  sloop 
of  one  hundred  and  eighty  tons,  carrying  fourteen 
guns  and  forty-three  men.  This  craft  was  taken  with- 
out loss.  Her  cargo  consisted  of  eighty-eight  casks 
of  sugar,  two  hundred  and  thirty-seven  casks  of  in- 
digo (or  eighty-seven  thousand  five  hundred  pounds 
of  that  commodity),  and  fifteen  bales  of  cotton.  In 
the  capture  of  this  vessel  the  commander  of  the 
Clinton  is  reported  as  having  acted  in  a  highly  honor- 
able manner.  After  La  Pomona  had  been  boarded, 
the  American  sailors  were  requested  by  their  com- 
mander to  "  desist "  from  plundering  the  passengers, 
officers,  and  sailors  of  the  prize.  The  tars  acquiesced, 
and  the  master  of  La  Pomona  was  so  affected  by  the 
delicacy  shown  that  on  his  arrival  in  New  York  he 
gave  the  officers  and  crew  of  the  Clinton  "a  very 
handsome  treat  of  a  hogshead  of  punch  and  an  ox 
roasted  whole." 

A  large,  heavily  armed  French  ship,  the  Rising 
Sun,  was  taken  by  a  clever  stratagem  in  1746.  This 
vessel  belonged  to  a  fleet  of  merchantmen  convoyed 
by  three  men-of-war,  and  for  several  days  the  Ameri- 
can privateer  Prince  Charles,  Captain  Tingley,  hung 
on  the  outskirts  of  the  convoy  in  the  hope  of  an  op- 
portunity to  attack.  The  Prince  Charles  herself  had 
been  a  French  craft  taken  by  an  American  privateer, 
and,  on  being  refitted,  was  "reckoned  the  stoutest 
vessel  fitted  out  of  North  America."  She  was  of  three 
hundred  and  eighty  tons  burden,  carried  twenty-four 
carriage  guns  (mostly  9-pounders)  and  thirty-four 
swivels,  besides  a  complement  of  two  hundred  men. 
The  Rising  Sun  also  was  a  formidable  vessel  for  a 
private  armed  craft,  carrying  twenty-two  heavy  guns 
and  a  corresponding  complement.  Had  the  two  ves- 
sels met  squarely,  a  desperate  battle,  with  a  doubt- 
ful outcome,  would  have  resulted.  Not  that  Captain 
Tingley  had  any  objections  to  a  fair  yardarm  and 
yardarm  fight,  but,  like  the  shrewd,  calculating 
American  that  he  was,  he  did  not  see  the  use  of 

1746-1747.          CAPTURE  OF  THE  RISING  SUN.  41 

shedding  blood  when  the  prize  might  be  taken  by  a 

After  dogging  the  fleet  three  days  he  came  upon 
the  Rising  Sun  separated  from  the  other  vessels.  Put- 
ting on  a  bold  front,  the  American  commander  affect- 
ed to  be  a  regular  man-of-war  and  demanded  the  sur- 
render of  the  Rising  Sun.  To  assist  him  in  the  decep- 
tion Captain  Tingley  armed  a  number  of  his  men  like 
marine^  and  placed  grenadier  caps  on  their  heads,  and 
arranged  to  have  those  imposing  headpieces  appear 
just  above  his  bulwarks,  where  the  enemy  could  see 
them.  The  trick  worked  admirably,  and  the  French- 
men surrendered  with  no  more  resistance  than  em- 
phatic protests.  The  Rising  Sun  arrived  off  Sandy 
Hook  early  in  April.  Her  cargo  consisted  of  one 
thousand  one  hundred  and  seventeen  hogsheads  of 
sugar,  four  hundred  and  fifty-eight  casks  of  coffee, 
and  other  goods,  besides  specie.  She  drew  eighteen 
feet  of  water,  so  that  ,some  difficulty  was  experienced 
in  getting  her  over  the  bar. 

Early  in  June,  1746,  the  privateers  Dragon  and 
Greyhound  appeared  in  ISTew  York  harbor  in  a  sorry 
plight.  They  had  with  them  as  a  prize  the  Spanish 
privateer  Grande  Diablo,  which  they  had  manned  and 
used  as  a  consort.  The  three  vessels  subsequently, 
while  cruising  in  the  Gulf  of  Mexico,  fell  in  with  a 
Spanish  war  ship  mounting  thirty-six  guns  and 
manned  by  three  hundred  men.  The  privateers  began 
an  attack  on  the  cruiser  and  kept  it  up  for  two 
days.  By  that  time  the  four  ships  had  been  reduced 
to  wrecks,  and  the  Americans,  having  exhausted  their 
ammunition,  hauled  off.  The  Spaniard  had  her  flag 
shot  away  in  the  course  of  the  engagement,  but  re* 
hoisted  it  on  the  withdrawal  of  her  assailants. 

That  the  line  between  privateering  and  piracy  was 
not  very  distinctly  drawn  by  the  middle  of  the  eight- 
eenth century  is  shown  in  an  item  published  in  one 
of  the  "  newspapers  "  of  New  York  in  1747:  "  Captain 
Troup,  in  the  privateer  brig  Royal  Hester,  of  this  port, 

42  COLONIAL  PRIVATEERS.  1744r-1758. 


lately  met  with  a  Danish  vessel  that  Wad  a  Spanish 
merchantman  with  eight  thousand  pieces  of  money 
on  board.  Captain  Troup  thought  proper  to  accept 
of  the  money,  and,  paying  the  Dane  his  freight,  very 
civilly  dismissed  him." 

Captain  Troup  also  commanded  the  privateer 
Sturdy  Beggar,  a  ship  carrying  twenty-six  guns  and 
credited  with  a  complement  of  two  hundred  men.  In 
fact,  a  majority  of  the  colonial  privateers  carried 
heavy  armaments  and  large  complements,  the  aver- 
age probably  being  not  far  from  eighteen  guns  and 
one  hundred  and  thirty  men,  making  them  really 
more  formidable  than  the  average  cruiser  of  that  day. 
Keeping  this  fact  in  mind,  it  will  not  be  difficult  to 
believe  the  statement  made  in  the  Weekly  Post  Boy 
of  September  3,  1744:  "?Tis  computed  there  will 
be  before  winter  one  hundred  and  thirteen  sail  of 
privateers  at  sea  from  the  British- American  colonies, 
most  stout  vessels  and  well  manned.  A  naval  force, 
some  say,  equal  that  of  Great  Britain  in  the  time  of 
Queen  Elizabeth." 

In  January,  1758,  the  14-gun  privateer  Thruloe, 
Captain  Mantle,  having  a  complement  of  eighty-four 
men,  had  a  hard-fought  action  with  the  French  pri- 
vate armed  ship  Les  Deu$  Amis,  Captain  F61ix.  The 
Frenchmen  carried  only  ten  guns,  but  had  a  comple- 
ment of  ninety-eight  men,  who,  as  the  battle  was 
fought  at  close  quarters,  made  good  use  of  their  small 
arms.  This  was  the  principal,  if  not  the  most  obsti- 
nately contested,  sea  fight  between  privateers  in  this 
war.  The  action  lasted  over  two  hours,  and  "it 
was  not,"  so  an  old-time  record  declares,  "until 
three  hundred  powderflasks  and  seventy-two  stink- 
pots "  had  been  thrown  aboard  Les  Deux  Amis  that 
the  enemy  was  induced  to  yield.  The  Americans  had 
thirty-seven  men  killed  or  wounded,  while  the  French 
are  credited  with  a  loss  of  eighty. 



IT  was  on  water — not  on  land,  as  has  been  so  gen- 
erally believed — that  the  first  overt  act  of  resistance 
to  British  authority  in  the  North  American  colonies 
was  made.  It  appears  that  an  illicit  trade  had  long 
been  carried  by  the  English  colonists,  and  in  endeav- 
oring to  suppress  it  the  commissioners  of  customs, 
as  early  as  1764,  had  stationed  armed  vessels  along 
the  coast  from  Oasco  Bay  to  Cape  Henlopen.  The 
vessel  cruising  off  Rhode  Island  in  1764  was  the 
St.  John,  Lieutenant  Hill,  which  made  herself  so  ob- 
noxious to  the  colonists  that  an  armed  sloop  was 
fitted  out  to  destroy  her,  and  was  deterred  from  the 
attempt  only  by  the  arrival  in  Newport  of  the  Brit- 
ish man-of-war  Squirrel.  The  colonists,  however, 
ventured  so  far  as  to  land  on  Goat  Island,  seize  the 
battery,  and  open  a  "  fire  of  defiance  "  on  the  war 

In  the  same  year  the  British  frigate  Maidstone 
appeared  at  Newport,  and  for  several  months  great- 
ly exasperated  the  townsfolk  by  impressing  seamen 
from  vessels  entering  the  harbor,  and  in  taking  men 
from  boats  and  other  small  craft  plying  in  the  bay. 
The  climax  of  these  outrages  was  reached  when  a 
brig  from  Africa,  entering  Newport  harbor,  was 
stopped  by  the  Maidstone  and  her  entire  crew  im- 
pressed. That  night  a  crowd  of  about  five  hundred 
men  and  boys  seized  one  of  the  Maidstone's  boats 
lying  at  the  wharf,  and,  dragging  it  through  the 


44  BEGINNING  HOSTILITIES.  1769-1772. 

streets  to  the  Common,  burned  it  in  front  of  the 
courthouse  amid  the  derisive  shouts  of  the  people. 
"  This  affair  was  so  suddenly  concocted  and  carried 
into  effect  that  the  authorities  had  no  time  to  inter- 
fere." x 

Five  years  after  this  occurrence,  or  in  1769,  the 
commissioners  of  customs  sent  Captain  Eeid  to  New- 
port, in  the  armed  sloop  Liberty,  who  exhibited  ex- 
traordinary zeal  and  unnecessary  arrogance  in  car- 
rying out  his  instructions.  While  cruising  in  Long 
Island  Sound,  July  17,  1769,  Eeid  seized  a  brig  and 
a  sloop  belonging  to  Connecticut  and  brought  them 
into  Newport.  Captain  Packwood,  of  the  brig,  had 
duly  reported  his  cargo,  and  had  conformed  to  all  the 
requirements  of  law.  After  waiting  two  days,  and 
finding  that  no  proceedings  had  been  instituted 
against  him,  he  went  aboard  the  Liberty,  and — Cap- 
tain Eeid  being  ashore  at  the  time — some  difficulty 
took  place  between  Packwood  and  the  men  in  the 
Liberty  which  resulted  in  several  musket  shots  being 
fired  at  Packwood's  boat  as  it  was  returning  shore- 
ward. Exasperated  by  this  unwarrantable  proceed- 
ing the  people  of  Newport  boarded  the  Liberty,  cut 
her  cables,  and  allowed  her  to  drift  ashore  near  Long 
Wharf.  At  that  place  they  again  boarded  her,  cut 
away  her  masts,  and  threw  her  armament  overboard. 
On  the  returning  high  tide  she  drifted  to  Goat 
Island,  and  on  the  following  night  a  party  from  New- 
port burned  her.2 

In  March,  1772,  Lieutenant  William  Dudingston, 
in  the  armed  schooner  Gaspti,  made  his  appearance 
in  Narragansett  Bay,  and  soon  proved  himself  to  be 
even  more  exacting  than  his  predecessors.  "He 
stopped  all  vessels,  including  small  market  boats, 
without  showing  his  authority  for  doing  so;  and 
even  sent  the  property  he  had  illegally  seized  to 
Boston  for  trial,  contrary  to  an  act  of  Parliament 

*  John  Russell  Barttett.  *  For  map  see  page  96. 


which  required  such  trials  to  be  held  in  the  coloiues 
where  the  seizures  were  made."  l    Suit  was  begun 
against  Dudingston  by  the  owners  of  one  of  these 
cargoes,  Jacob  Greene  &  Co.,  of  Warwick,  in  July, 
1772,  which  resulted  in  a  judgment  against  the 
British  officer.     Complaints  of  these  proceedings 
were  duly  made,  and  Joseph  Wanton,  colonial  Gov- 
ernor of  Ehode  Island,  sent  a  number  of  letters  to 
Rear- Admiral  John  Montagu,  at  Boston,  protesting 
against  the  outrages,  which,  however,  only  elicited 
an  arrogant  reply  from  the  admiral,  who  said:  "I 
shall  report  your  two  insolent  letters  to  my  officer 
[Lieutenant  Dudingston]   to  his  majesty's  secre* 
taries  of  state,  and  leave  to  them  to  determine  what 
right  you  have  to  demand  a  sight  of  all  orders  I 
shall  give  to  officers  of  my  squadron;  and  I  would 
advise  you  not  to  send  your  sheriff  on  board  the 
king's  ship  again  on  such  ridiculous  errands,  .  .  . 
I  am  also  informed  the  people  of  Newport  talk  of 
fitting  out  an  armed  vessel  to  rescue  any  vessel  the 
king's  schooner  may  take  carrying  on  an  illicit 
trade.    Let  them  be  cautious  what  they  do,  for  as 
sure  as  they  attempt  it,  and  any  of  them  are  taken, 
I  will  hang  them  as  pirates."   Dudingston  evidently 
realized  that  many  of  his  seizures  were  illegal,  for  he 
feared  to  venture  ashore,  as  many  suits  at  law  were 
threatened  against  him  by  the  owners  of  goods  and 
vessels  he  had  taken.    The  suit  brought  by  Jacob 
Greene  &  Co.  was  instituted  after  Dudingston  had 
been  taken  ashore  by  the  captors  of  the  Gasp6. 

Affairs  were  in  this  critical  state  when,  on  June  9, 
1772,  the  packet  Hannah,  Captain  Benjamin  Lindsey, 
left  Newport  for  Providence.  Soon  after  meridian 
the  Gasp6  gave  chase  and  ordered  the  packet  to  come 
to.  Lindsey  refused,  and,  favored  by  the  wind,  led 
the  schooner  a  25-mile  race  up  the  bay.  When 
off  "Namquit  Point,  which  runs  off  from  the 

*  John  Bussell  Bartiett. 

46  BBanramra  HOSTILITIES.  1772. 

farm  in  Warwick,  about  seven  miles  below  Provi- 
dence, now  owned  by  Mr.  John  Brown  Francis,  our 
late  Governor," l  the  Hannah  stood  westward,  while 
the  Gasp6,  in  close  pursuit,  changed  her  course  and 
grounded  on  the  Point.  "  Lindsey  continued  on  his 
course  up  the  river  and  arrived  at  Providence  about 
sunset,  when  he  immediately  informed  Mr.  John 
Brown,  one  of  our  first  and  most  respectable  mer- 
chants, of  the  situation  of  the  Gasp6.  He  [Brown] 
immediately  concluded  that  she  would  remain  im- 
movable until  after  midnight  [as  the  tide  was  be- 
ginning to  ebb],  and  that  now  an  opportunity  offered 
of  putting  an  end  to  the  trouble  and  vexation  she 
daily  caused.  Mr.  Brown  immediately  resolved  on 
her  destruction,  and  he  forthwith  directed  one  of  his 
trusty  shipmasters  to  collect  eight  of  the  largest 
longboats  in  the  harbor,  with  five  oars  each;  to  have 
the  oars  and  rowlocks  well  muffled,  to  prevent  noise, 
and  to  place  them  at  Fenner?s  Wharf,  directly  oppo- 
site the  dwelling  of  Mr.  James  Sabin,  who  kept  a 
house  of  board  and  entertainment  for  gentlemen. 
.  .  .  About  the  time  of  shutting-up  of  shops,  soon 
after  sunset,  a  man  pased  along  the  main  street 
beating  a  drum,  and  informing  the  inhabitants  of 
the  fact  that  the  Gaspe  was  aground  on  Namquit 
Point  and  would  not  float  off  until  three  o'clock  the 
next  morning,  and  inviting  those  persons  who  felt 
disposed  to  go  and  destroy  that  troublesome  vessel 
to  repair  in  the  evening  to  Mr.  James  Sabin's  house. 
About  nine  o'clock,  I  took  my  father's  gun  and  my 
powderhorn  and  bullets  and  went  to  Mr.  Sabin's  and 
found  the  southeast  room  full  of  people,  where  I 
loaded  my  gun,  and  all  remained  there  till  about  ten 
o'clock,  some  casting  bullets  in  the  kitchen  and 
others  making  arrangements  for  departure,  when 
orders  were  given  to  cross  the  street  to  Fenner's 

1  Account  of  Colonel  Bphraim  Bowen,  the  last  survivor  of  the  men 
who  made  the  attack  on  the  &a&p&,  written  August  29,  1839. 

1772.  ATTACK  ON  THE  GASPfi.  47 

Wharf  and  embark,  which  soon  took  place,  and  a 
sea  captain  acted  as  steersman  of  each  boat."  I 

Abraham  Whipple  was  chosen  commander  of  the 
enterprise,  having  as  his  lieutenant  John  Burroughs 

Captain  Abraham  Whipple. 
From  a  painting  in  possession  of  the  B.  I.  Historical  Society. 

Hopkins,  both  of  whom  afterward  became  captains 
in  the  Continental  navy.  Others  known  to  have 
taken  part  in  the  attempt  were  John  Brown,  Ben- 

1  Account  of  Ephiaim  Bowen. 

4:8  BEGiraOffa  HOSTILITIES.  1772. 

jamin  Dunn,  Samuel  Dunn,  Joseph  Bucklin,  Dr.  John 

Mawney,  Dickenson,  Benjamin  Page,  Tur- 

pin  Smith,  Joseph  Tillinghast,  and  Simeon  H.  Olney. 
Dr.  Mawney  wrote,  in  1826:  "I  went  to  Corlis's 
Wharf  with  Captain  Joseph  Tillinghast,  who  com- 
manded the  barge,  it  being  the  last  boat  that  put 
off.  In  going  down  we  stopped  at  Captain  Cooke's 
Wharf,  where  we  took  in  staves  and  paying  stones; 
which  done,  we  followed  our  commander  [Whipple], 
and  came  up  with  them  a  considerable  distance 
down  the  river." 

When  the  party  came  in  sight  of  the  Gaspe,  Whip- 
pie  formed  his  boats  in  a  line  abreast,  taking  the 
immediate  command  on  the  right,  while  Hopkins 
had  charge  of  the  left.  Whipple  arranged  his  attack 
so  as  to  approach  directly  upon  the  bow  of  the  Gasp6, 
where  she  could  not  bring  a  gun  to  bear.  "We 
rowed  gently  along,"  continues  Dr.  Mawney,  "till 
we  got  near  the  schooner,  when  we  were  hailed  from 
on  board  with  the  words: 

"  <  Who  comes  there? ' 

"Captain  Whipple  replied: 

" '  I  want  to  come  on  board.' 

"The  reply  was: 

" t  Stand  off!    You  can't  come  on  board.' 

"  On  which  Whipple  roared  out: 

"  '  I  am  the  sheriff  of  the  County  of  Kent;  I  am 
come  for  the  commander  of  this  vessel,  and  I  will 
have  him,  dead  or  alive.  Men,  spring  to  your  oars! ' " 

According  to  other  reliable  accounts  Whipple,  in 
this  brief  parley,  emphasized  his  words  with  a  re- 
markable amount  of  real  sailor-like  pc^fanity,  possi- 
bly with  a  view  of  concealing  his  identify^  By  this 
time  Dudingston  had  appeared  on  deck  in  his  shirt 
sleeves  and  ordered  the  boats  to  keep  away,  and  on 
their  persistent  approach  discharged  his  pistol, 
while  several  of  his  men  also  fired.  Colonel  Bowen 
says:  "  I  took  my  seat  on  the  main  thwart,  near  the 
larboard  [port]  rowlock,  with  my  gun  by  my  right 


^      0 

•Ss    a 

js   3 





1772,  DUDINWrON  WOUNDED.  49 

side,  facing  forward.  As  soon  as  Dudingston  began 
to  hall,  Joseph  Bucklin,  who  was  standing  on  the 
main  thwart,  by  my  right  side,  said  to  me:  'Ephe, 
reach  me  your  gun  and  I  can  kill  that  fellow.'  I 
reached  it  to  him  accordingly,  when,  during  Captain 
Whipple's  replying,  Bucklin  fired  and  Dudingston 
fell,  and  Bucklin  exclaimed:  'I  have  killed  the 
rascal! '  [The  ball  shattered  the  lieutenant's  arm 
and  lodged  in  his  groin.]  In  less  than  a  minute 
after  Captain  Whipple's  reply  the  boats  were  along- 
side the  Gaspe  and  [we]  boarded  without  opposi- 
tion. The  men  on  deck  retreated  below  as  Duding- 
ston entered  the  cabin." 

Dr.  Mawney  thus  describes  the  boarding  of  the 
Gasp6:  "We  were  in  an  instant  under  her  bows.  I 
was  then  sitting  with  Captain  Tillinghast  in  the 
stern  of  the  barge  and  sprang  immediately  forward, 
and  seeing  a  rope  hang  down  her  b9ws  seized  it  to 
help  myself  in.  The  rope  slipping,  I  fell  almost  to 
my  waist  in  the  water,  but  being  nimble  and  active  I 
recovered,  and  was  the  first  of  our  crew  on  deck, 
when  Simeon  H.  Olney  handed  me  a  stave,  with 
which,  seeing  one  [man]  that  I  took  to  be  of  the 
crew  of  the  schooner  floundering  below  the  wind- 
lass, I  was  in  the  attitude  of  a  leveling  stroke,  when 
he  cried  out:  '  John,  don't  strike! '  Being  very  in- 
timately acquainted  with  Captain  Samuel  Dunn,  I 
knew  his  voice,  left  him,  and  sprang  back  of  the 
windlass,  where  there  was  commotion  and  noise, 
but  which  soon  subsided.  The  crew  jumping  down 
the  hold,  I  immediately  followed,  when  I  ordered 
them  to.  bring  cords  to  tie  their  hands  with,  and 
told  them  they  should  not  be  hurt,  but  be  sent  on 
shore.  They  brought  some  tarred  strings,  with 
which  I  tied  the  hands  of  two,  when  John  Brown, 
Esq.,  called  to  me,  saying  I  was  wanted  immedi- 
ately on  deck,  where  I  was  instantly  helped.  When 
I  asked  Mr.  Brown  what  the  matter  was  he  re- 
plied, '  Don't  call  names,  but  go  immediately  into 

50  BEGINNER  HOSTILITIES.  1772-1778. 

the  cabin;  there  is  one  wounded  and  will  bleed  to 
death.'  I  hastened  into  the  cabin  and  found  Lieu- 
tenant Dudingston  in  a  sitting  posture,  gently  re- 
clining to  the  left,  bleeding  profusely,  with  a  thin 
white  woolen  blanket  loose  about  him,  which  I  threw 
aside,  and  discovered  the  effect  of  a  musket  ball  in 
his  left  groin.  Thinking  the  femoral  artery  was 
cut,  I  threw  open  my  waistcoat,  and  taking  my  shirt 
by  the  collar  tore  it  to  my  waistband.  Mr.  Duding- 
ston said:  'Pray,  sir,  don't  tear  your  clothes;  there 
is  linen  in  that  trunk.'  Upon  which  I  requested 
Joseph  Bucklin  to  break  open  the  trunk  and  tear 
the  linen  and  scrape  lint,  which  he  immediately  at- 
tempted, but,  finding  the  linen  new  and  strong,  could 
not  make  lint."  Discovering  that  dawn  was  rapidly 
aproaching  Dr.  Mawney  tore  the  linen  into  strips, 
and,  bandaging  Dudingston  as  well  as  he  could, 
placed  him  in  one  of  the  boats  where  the  other  pris- 
oners had  been 'collected.  After  setting  fire  to  the 
Gasp6  so  that  she  burned  to  the  water's  edge  and 
blew  up,  the  boats  returned  to  Providence,  landing 
the  prisoners  at  Pawtuxet. 

This  affair  caused  great  excitement,  the  British 
Government  offering  a  reward  of  one  thousand 
pounds  for  the  apprehension  of  the  leader  of  the  at- 
tack and  five  hundred  pounds  for  any  of  the  partici- 
pants, at  the  same  time  promising  pardon  to  any  one 
who  would  make  disclosures.  No  one  was  found 
willing  to  give  the  desired  information,  although  a 
special  commission  sat  for  this  purpose  from  January 
to  June,  1773.  All  those  taking  part  in  the  affair  were 
more  or  less  disguised  at  the  time. 

This  spirited  attack  was  followed,  in  June,  1773,  by 
the  famous  "  Boston  Tea  Party."  This  was  somewhat 
in  the  nature  of  a  private  maritime  enterprise.  One 
of  the  measures  adopted  by  England  to  coerce  the 
colonists  was  to  place  a  heavy  tax  on  tea.  The  latter 
evaded  it  by  agreeing  not  to  import  or  use  the  article, 
the  result  being  that  the  merchandise  soon  accumu- 




lated  in  the  warehouses  of  the  East  India  Company. 
At  Charleston  the  people  caused  the  tea  to  be  stored 
in  damp  cellars,  where  it  spoiled,  while  the  New  York- 

The  "Boston  Tea  Party." 
From  an  old  print 

ers  and  Philadelphians  compelled  some  ships  to  re- 
turn without  unloading. 

Three  cargoes  arrived  at  Boston  which  the  people 
endeavored  also  to  send  back,  but  the  Crown  officials 
refused  to  give  the  necessary  clearances.  Determined 
to  prevent  the  landing  of  the  offensive  article,  a  num- 
ber of  the  inhabitants,  disguised  as  Indians,  on  the 
night  of  December  17,  1773,  suddenly  appeared  on 
the  wharf,  took  possession  of  the  ships,  and,  opening 
the  hatches,  broke  open  the  chests  and  poured  the 
tea  into  the  bay.  Three  hundred  and  forty-two  chests 
of  tea  were  destroyed  in  this  way. 




The  first  sea  fight  after  the  battle  of  Bunker  Hill 
was  that  between  the  captured  schooner  Unity  and 
the  British  armed  cutter  Margaretta,  Lieutenant 
Moore.  The  rapid  concentration  of  troops  in  Boston 
made  it  necessary  for  the  enemy  to  provide  addi- 
tional barracks,  and  for  the  purpose  of  securing  lum- 
ber for  these  buildings  the  British  ordered  two  small 
vessels,  about  eighty  tons  each,  belonging  to  Ichabod 
Jones,  of  Boston,  under  the  convoy  of  the  Margaretta, 
to  Machias,1  "the  extreme  easterly  outpost  of  the 

Birthplace  of  Colonel  Jeremiah  O'Brien,  near  Machias,  Maine. 
From  a,  photograph. 

colonists;  and  being  the  only  point  in  all  the  region 
beyond  the  Penobscot,  and  between  it  and  the  St. 
Croix,  at  which  any  considerable  number  of  white 
men  have  found  lodgment,  in  a  region  which  had 
lately  become  safe  from  aboriginal  and  French  in- 
cursions, they  were  in  many  respects  seemingly  un- 

1  According  to  the  account  of  John  O'Brien,  one  of  the  participants, 
the  lumber  wanted  was  "  pickets  and  planks,  to  be  used  by  the  English  in 
the  defense  of  Boston." 


recognized,  and  apparently  almost  without  the  pale 
of  colonial  jurisdiction." 1 

The  Margaretta,  with  her  convoy,  arrived  at  the 
mouth  of  the  Machias  Eiver  June  2, 1775,  and  on  June 
3d  Lieutenant  Moore  circulated  a  paper  among  the  in- 
habitants for  signatures  "as  a  prequisite  to  their 
obtaining  supplies  of  any  provisions,"  2  of  which  the 
people  were  in  great  need.  According  to  the  terms  of 
this  paper,  or  contract,  the  inhabitants  were  to  "  in- 
dulge Captain  Jones  in  carrying  lumber  to  Boston, 
and  to  protect  him  and  his  property  at  all  events." 
On  June  6th  the  people  held  a  meeting  and  decided 
not  to  grant  his  request  for  lumber,  upon  which  Jones 
reported  the  matter  to  Moore,  who  caused  the  sloop 
and  the  Margaretta  to  anchor  near  the  village,  where 
his  guns  would  command  the  houses.  This  had  the 
effect  of  changing  the  attitude  of  the  inhabitants,  to 
the  extent  that  a  majority  voted  to  allow  Jones  to  get 
the  lumber  and  to  permit  the  citizens  individually 
to  purchase  provisions.  But  there  were  many  who 
voted  against  this  resolution. 

Upon  learning  of  this  decision  Jones  brought  his 
lumber  vessels  up  to  the  wharf  and  distributed  the 
provisions  only  among  those  who  had  voted  in  his 
favor.  This  gave  offense  to  those  who  were  denied 
provisions,  and  they  determined  to  seize  Jones  and 
put  a  stop  to  his  mission  of  securing  lumber.8  Vague 
rumors  of  the  fight  at  Lexington  had  reached  this  out- 
post of  civilization,  and  the  arrival  of  these  vessels 
in  quest  of  this  particular  kind  of  lumber  confirmed 
the  news  in  the  minds  of  the  townsfolk.  But  Lieu- 
tenant Moore,  under  the  impression  that  these  people 
were  ignorant  of  that  occurrence,  was. careful  to  con- 

1  GK  W.  Balch.    *  Official  report  of  the  Machias  Committee  of  Safety. 

*  Nearly  all  the  popular  accounts  of  the  Margaretta  fight  have  omitted 
these  important  preliminary  details,  leaving  it  to  he  inferred  that  the 
Crown  vessels,  with  their  convoy,  arrived  at  Machias  June  10th  or  llth. 
The  Above  account  is  taken  from  the  official  report  of  the  Machias  Com- 
mittee of  Safety. 


ceal  all  information  on  the  subject.  Soon  after  his 
arrival  he  assumed  an  arrogant  tone,  and  took  excep- 
tion to  the  liberty  pole  which  the  inhabitants  had 
erected  on  the  village  green.  "  He  said  it  must  be 
taken  down  or  the  town  would  be  fired  upon.  A  Mr. 
Stephen  Jones  was  present,  and,  owning  a  store  in 
Machias,  had  considerable  weight  with  the  people. 

O'Brien's  Brook,  near  Machias,  Maine,  where  the  patriots  held 

their  secret  meetings. 

From  a  photograph. 

He  advised  Moore  to  suspend  his  determination  until 
the  people  could  assemble  a  town  meeting;  perhaps 
the  town  would  agree  to  take  down  the  liberty  pole. 
The  town  met,  as  was  proposed,  and  voted  not  to  take 
it  down.  Mr.  Jones,  who  was  in  considerable  favor 
with  the  English  commander,  persuaded  him  to  defer 
execution  of  his  threat  until  a  second  town  meeting 
could  be  called,  it  being  stated  that  the  first  was  not 
fully  attended." l 

Anticipating  that  there  would  be  trouble  over  the 
liberty  pole  the  inhabitants  of  Machias  secretly  sent 
word  to  Pleasant  Eiver  village,  about  twenty  miles 
distant,  and  to  a  few  other  settlements  within  reach, 
asking  for  reinforcements.  Before  this  aid  could 

1  Account  of  John  O'Brien,  one  oi  the  participants  in  the  affair. 

1775.  PREPARING  TO  ATTACK.  55 

come  the  people  had  held  another  meeting — a  secret 
one— on  Sunday,  June  llth,  in  the  woods  at  the  back 
of  the  settlement,  at  which  the  project  of  capturing 
the  Crown  boat  and  her  convoy  was  discussed.  After 
some  talk  Benjamin  Foster,  of  Bast  Falls,  Machias — 
Pizarro-like — stepped  across  a  brook  near  by  and 
called  upon  all,  who  would  take  part  in  an  attempt, 
to  follow  him.  He  was  promptly  supported  by  the 
sturdy  men  at  the  gathering,  and  Foster  was  dele- 
gated to  proceed  to  East  Machias  to  secure  a 
schooner  lying  there,  which  was  well  adapted  for  the 

Meantime  Moore  and  Ichabod  Jones,  with  several 
of  their  men,  ignorant  of  the  fact  that  a  secret  meeting 
was  being  held,  had  attended  religious  service  in  the 
meetinghouse.  Some  of  the  villagers,  in  anticipation 
of  trouble,  carried  their  guns  to  church,  but  took  care 
to  keep  them  out  of  sight,  John  O'Brien  concealing 
his  under  a  board.  He  observed  Moore  when  the 
latter  entered  the  edifice,  and  took  a  seat  directly  be- 
hind the  British  officer.  In  the  course  of  the  service 
Moore  happened  to  look  out  of  the  open  window,  and 
he  saw  up  the  river,  at  a  distance  of  about  half  a  mile, 
a  number  of  men  crossing  the  stream  on  logs,  holding 
guns  in  their  hands.1  These  were  the  reinforcements 
coming  from  Pleasant  Eiver  village.  The  English 
commander  at  once  surmised  their  object  and  realized 
the  peril  of  his  situation.  At  that  time  the  meeting- 
house was  unfinished  and  there  were  no  pews,  the  con- 
gregation using  temporary  benches.2  Making  his 
way  over  these  seats  Moore  reached  a  window,  jumped 
out,  and  managed  to  make  his  way  to  his  vessel,  then 
anchored  at  White's  Point.  Ichabod  Jones  took  to 
the  woods,  where  he  secreted  himself  several  days. 
Stephen  Jones,  who  also  was  at  the  meeting,  was 
taken  prisoner  and  held  under  guard. 

1  Account  of  John  O'Brien,  one  of  the  participants. 
» .Collections  of  the  Maine  Historical  Society. 


The  temper  of  these  Maine  people  is  touchingly 
shown  by  an  incident  that  occurred  the  following  day. 
The  men  who  came  from  Pleasant  Biver  were  short 
of  powder,  having  only  two  or  three  charges  each. 
It  appears  that  one  of  them,  Josiah  Weston,  of  Jones- 
boro,  forgot  his  powderhorn.  His  wife  Hannah,  after 
his  departure,  noticed  the  oversight,  and,  following  the 
trail  through  the  woods,  reached  Machias  on  the  next 
day  with  the  precious  article.  In  this  plucky  tramp 
through  the  woods,  Mrs.  Weston  was  accompanied 
by  her  husband's  sister,  Miss  Rebecca  Weston,  a  frail 
girl  fifteen  years  old.  Mrs.  Weston  herself  was  in  her 
seventeenth  year  and  had  been  married  five  months. 
The  powder,  which  was  carried  in  a  bag,  weighed 
forty  pounds.  "  There  were  no  roads  or  bridges,  and 
the  two  girls  followed  spots  on  trees,  coming  out  on 
Machias  Eiver,  where  Whitneyville  now  is,  and  fol- 
lowed the  river  to  Machias." * 

After  sending  word  to  the  inhabitants  that  he 
would  burn  the  town  if  they  persisted  in  their  hostile 
demonstrations,  Moore  dropped  the  Margaretta  be- 
low the  Narrows.  Notwithstanding  his  threat  the 
Americans  seized  the  sloop  Unity9  and  forty  of  the 
men  of  Machias  went  aboard  her,  while  another  party 
took  the  second  sloop  and  brought  her  up  to  the 
wharf,  "  On  examining  their  equipments  of  warfare, 
only  twenty  guns  could  be  produced,  many  of  which 
were  mere  fowling  pieces,  carrying  scatter  shot,  and 
of  powder,  ball,  and  shot  there  were  no  more  than 
three  rounds  to  each  firearm.  The  remaining  weapons 
consisted  of  thirteen  pitchforks,  a  few  scythes,  and 
ten  or  twelve  axes."2  The  Margaretta  was  armed 
with  four  3-pounders  and  fourteen  swivels.  Only  two 
of  the  Machias  men  had  ever  seen  military  service; 
they  were  Morris  O'Brien  and  Benjamin  Poster,  both 
of  whom  had  served  in  the  expedition  against  Louis- 

1  Collections  of  the  Maine  Historical  Society. 
8  G.  W.  Balch,  a  descendant  of  Morris  O'Brien. 


burg.  Morris  was  now  incapacitated  by  extreme 
age.  Jeremiah  O'Brien,  then  thirty-one  years  old, 
a  son  of  Morris  O'Brien,  was  chosen  commander 
of  the  Unity,  and  Edmund  Stevens  was  made  his 

While  this  had  been  going  on  a  number  of  the  in- 
habitants had  gathered  on  the  highland  overlooking 
the  Margaretta's  refuge  near  the  Narrows,  and  threat- 
ened to  attack  if  she  did  not  surrender.  Receiving 
for  answer  "  fire  and  be  damned,"  they  opened  fire, 
which  Moore  returned,  but  finding  himself  at  a  disad- 
vantage again  got  under  way,  and,  running  into  a  bay, 
anchored  near  the  confluence  of  two  streams.  Here 
he  lashed  the  Margaretta  alongside  a  small  sloop  com- 
manded by  a  Mr.  Toby,  whom  Moore  compelled  to 
come  aboard  the  Crown  cutter  and  act  as  pilot. 

It  was  not  until  Monday  morning,  June  12th,  that 
the  patriots  were  ready  to  make  sail  in  pursuit,  when 
the  Unity,  followed  by  the  second  lumber  craft  hav- 
ing twenty  men  under  the  command  of  Benjamin  Pos- 
ter aboard,  got  under  way.  Observing  the  approach 
of  the  Americans,  Moore  again  weighed  anchor  and 
maneuvered  so  as  to  avoid  a  collision.  In  this  effort 
his  vessel  lost  her  boom  and  gaff,  whereupon  he  ran 
into  Holmes  Bay,  and,  taking  a  spar  and  all  the  pro- 
visions, together  with  Eobert  Avery,  of  Norwich,  Con- 
necticut, out  of  a  craft  he  met  coming  in  from  the 
Bay  of  Fundy,  repaired  his  injury. 

While  this  work  was  going  on  the  Americans 
again  drew  near,  and  to  avoid  them  Moore  stood  out 
to  sea.  "  During  the  chase  our  people  built  their 
breastworks  [bulwarks]  of  pine  boards,  and  any- 
thing they  could  find  in  the  vessels  that  would  screen 
them  from  the  enemy's  fire." l  Finding  that  the 
Americans  were  not  only  following  him,  but  were 
rapidly  gaining,  Lieutenant  Moore  cut  away  his 

1  Letter  of  Maohias  Committee  of  Safety  to  the  "  Honorable  Congress 
of  Massachusetts  Bay,"  June  14,  1775. 


boats,  and  as  this  did  not  enable  him  to  hold  his  dis- 
tance he,  when  "at  the  entrance  of  our  harbor,"1 
began  firing,  one  of  his  shots  killing  an  American. 
This  fire  was  answered  by  one  of  the  volunteers 
named  Knight,  who  discharged  his  "  wall  piece " 
— a  musket  too  heavy  to  fire  offhand,  needing  the 
support  of  a  "wall,"  but  in  this  instance  prob- 
ably the  "breastwork"  or  bulwark — killing  the 
English  helmsman,  an  impressed  seaman,  and  clear- 
ing the  poop  of  men.  The  two  craft  quickly  came 
together,  when  a  sharp  fire  of  small  arms  was 
opened.  Moore  made  a  gallant  defense,  throwing 
personally  a  number  of  hand  grenades  and  with 
great  effect,  until  he  was  shot  through  the  breast 
with  a  brace  of  musket  balls.  The  unfortunate  Mr. 
Avery  also  was  killed.  A  British  midshipman  named 
Stillingfleet  became  terrified  and  secreted  himself 
below.  *• 

The  Americans  now  boarded  and  soon  obtained 
possession  of  the  cutter,  the  action  having  lasted  "  for 
near  the  space  of  an  hour."  The  first  man  to  board 
was  John  O'Brien,  brother  of  Jeremiah,  and  the  sec- 
ond was  Joseph  Getchell,  On  the  part  of  the  Ameri- 
cans one  was  killed  and  six  were  wounded,2  one  of 
the  latter  afterward  dying.  The  enemy  had  four  men 
killed  and  about  ten  wounded,8  one  mortally,  her 
commander,  who  died  in  the  village  the  next  day. 
For  this  brilliant  affair  the  Colonial  Council,  then  in 
session  at  Cambridge,  tendered  Jeremiah  O'Brien  a 
vote  of  thanks  and  gave  him  the  custody  of  his  prizes. 
The  Margaretta  was  brought  back  to  port  and  her 
armament  was  transferred  to  the  Unity.  "  We  pur- 
pose," wrote  the  Machias  Committee  of  Safety,  "  to 
convey  the  prisoners  to  Pownalborough  Gaol  as  soon 
as  possible." 

1  Massachusetts  Archives. 

*  Official  report  of  the  Machias  Committee  of  Safety. 

*  Letter  of  Joseph  Wheaton  to  John  O'Brien.    Wheaton  was  one  o: 
the  Americans  participating. 

1775.  BATTLE  IN  THE  BAY  OF  FUNDY.  59 

There  has  been  confusion  in  some  accounts  of  this 
affair  as  to  which  O'Brien  commanded  the  Unity.  In- 
quiring of  Miss  Annetta  O'Brien  Walker,  a  descend- 
ant of  Morris  O'Brien,  the  author  learns  that  it  un- 
questionably was  Jeremiah  who  had  the  honor.  The 
confusion  very  naturally  arises  from  the  fact  that 
there  were  six  O'Briens  in  the  fight,  three  of  them 
having  the  letter  "  J  "  as  their  initial,  As  many  of 
the  early  records  give  only  the  first  letter,  «  J,"  to 
the  commander,  doubt  easily  arose  as  to  which 
O'Brien  was  intended.  The  six  brothers  were  Jere- 
miah, Gideon,  Joseph,  Dennis,  John,  and  William. 
Their  father,  Morris,  came  from  Dublin,  Ireland,  in 
1740,  and  settled  in  Scarboro',1  then  in  Massachu- 
setts. About  1760  the  family  moved  to  Machias  on 
account  of  the  facilities  there  offered  in  the  lumber 
business.2  They  built  and  owned  sawmills.  The 
gunboat  Machias,  of  our  present  navy,  was  named  for 
the  town  where  the  fight  took  place. 

The  news  of  this  fight  greatly  enraged  British 
navy  officials,  and  about  a  month  later  they  sent  two 
armed  sloops,  the  Diligence  and  the  Tapanagouche,  or 
Tapuaquish,  from  Halifax  to  punish  the  audacious 
Yankees.  These  sloops  carried  eight  guns  and  fifty 
men  for  the  first  and  sixteen  swivels  for  the  last. 
Hearing  of  their  approach,  O'Brien  sailed  from  Ma- 
chias with  the  Unity  and  the  coasting  vessel  Portland 
Packet,  commanded  by  Benjamin  Foster,  to  anticipate 
them.  They  met  July  12,  1775,  in  the  Bay  of  Fundy, 
and  by  attacking  them  separately  the  Americans  took 
both  and  brought  them  in  triumph  to  Watertown. 
For  this  truly  brilliant  affair  O'Brien  was  made  a 
captain  in  the  Massachusetts  State  marine,  and  with 
his  last  two  prizes,  which  he  named  Machias  Liberty 
and  Diligence,  he  went  out  to  cruise  after  British 
transports,  O'Brien  commanding  the  Machias  Liberty 

1  Maine*  Historical  Society  collections. 
» Annetta  O'Brien  Walker  to  the  author. 


and  a  Mr.  Lambert  the  Diligence.  Under  their  new 
commanders  these  vessels  were  highly  successful.  On 
August  9,  1775,  they  recaptured  a  schooner  that  had 
fallen  into  the  hands  of  the  enemy,  and  also  a  cutter 
and  two  barges,  with  thirty-five  men,  under  the  com- 
mand of  a  lieutenant  of  the  British  sloop  of  war 
Falcon,  that  were  operating  in  Gloucester  Bay.  In 
this  capture  the  Americans  had  one  man  killed  and 
two  wounded. 

These  maritime  successes  so  exasperated  Admiral 
Graves,  then  commander  on  the  North  American 

station,  that  he  sent  out  a 
squadron  of  four  war  ves- 
sels under  Captain  Mowatt 
to  "  overawe  "  the  colonists. 
Mowatt  destroyed  the  town 
of  Falmouth,  Maine  (now 
Portland),  in  October,  com- 
pelling many  women  and 
children  to  seek  cover  in 
hastily  constructed  huts  at 
the  beginning  of  the  severe 
northern  winter.  Among 
these  children  was  Edward 
Preble,  then  only  fourteen 
years  old.  Later  in  life  he  became  famous  as  a  cap- 
tain in  our  navy.  The  Machias  Liberty  and  Diligence 
continued  to  cruise  off  the  New  England  coast  for 
a  year  and  a  half,  when  they  were  laid  up.  Captain 
O'Brien  afterward  entered  the  privateer  service, 
commanding  the  armed  ships  Little  Vincent,  Cyrus, 
and  Tiger,  of  New  Hampshire,  Late  in  September, 
1777,  he  captured  off  Cape  Negro  a  vessel  from  Ire- 
land laden  with  pork  for  the  British  army.  This 
craft  had  been  taken  by  an  American  privateer,  was 
recaptured  by  the  British  cruiser  Scarborough,  and 
was  again  seized  by  Captain  O'Brien.1 

1  Kidder's  Eastern  Maine. 


Later  in  the  war  Jeremiah,  with  his  brother  John 
and  several  others,  built  at  Newburyport  a  ship 
called  the  Hannibal,  carrying  twenty  guns  and  a  com- 
plement of  one  hundred  and  thirty  men.  On  her  first 
cruise,  to  Port  au  Prince,  she  was  commanded  by 
John  O'Brien.  Eeturning  from  this  voyage  with  sev- 
eral prizes,  the  Hannibal  was  under  the  command  of 
Jeremiah  O'Brien.  Meeting  with  varied  success  in  a 
cruise  of  considerable  length  the  Hannibal,  in  1780, 
was  captured,  after  a  chase  of  forty-eight  hours,  by 
two  British  frigates  which  were  escorting  a  fleet  of 
merchantmen  in  the  vicinity  of  New  York.  Captain 
O'Brien  and  his  men  were  taken  into  that  port  and 
were  confined  in  the  ill-famed  prison  ship  Jersey, 
where  they  were  subjected  to  great  hardship.  After 
six  months  of  imprisonment  the  Hannibal's  crew  was 
exchanged,  with  the  exception  of  Captain  O'Brien, 
who  it  seems,  by  orders  from  England,  was  reserved 
for  the  special  malice  of  the  British  Government 
He  was  transported  to  England  and  thrown  into 
Mill  Prison,  and  made  the  object  of  personal  ill  treat- 

Notwithstanding  the  careful  watch  kept  on  him, 
O'Brien  managed  to  effect  his  escape.  The  story  of 
this  exploit,  as  told  by  his  brother  John,  is  as  fol- 
lows :  "  He  purposely  neglected  his  dress  and  whole 
personal  appearance  for  a  month.  The  afternoon  be- 
fore making  his  escape  he  shaved  and  dressed  in 
decent  clothes,  so  as  to  alter  very  much  his  personal 
appearance,  and  walked  out  with  the  other  prisoners 
in  the  jail  yard.  Having  secreted  himself  under  a 
platform  in  the  yard,  and  thus  escaping  the  notice  of 
the  keepers  at  the  evening  round-up,  he  was  left  out 
of  the  cells  after  they  were  locked  for  the  night.  He 
escaped  from  the  yard  by  passing  through  the  prin- 
cipal keeper's  house  in  the  dusk  of  the  evening.  Al- 
though he  made  a  little  stay  in  the  barroom  of  the 
house,  he  was  not  detected,  being  taken  for  a  British 
soldier.  In  company  with  a  Captain  Lyon  and  an- 

62  BEGINNING  HOSTILITIES.  1779-1776. 

other  American  who  also  had  escaped  from  the  prison 
and  were  concealed  somewhere  in  the  vicinity,  he 
crossed  the  English  Channel  to  France  in  a  boat  and 
thence  came  to  America,"  jnst  about  the  time  hostili- 
ties ceased.  He  lived  to  see  the  second  war  with 
Great  Britain,  but  at  that  time  was  too  old  to  become 
an  active  participant.  One  of  our  new  torpedo  boats 
is  named  O'Brien  in  honor  of  Jeremiah  O'Brien. 

While  his  brother  was  confined  in  British  prisons, 
John  O'Brien  had  purchased  the  fast-sailing  brig 
Hibernia,  carrying  six  3-pounders  and  sixty  men.  He 
Bailed  from  Newburyport  in  this  vessel  June  9,  1779, 
and  on  the  21st  captured  an  English  brig  and  sent 
her  into  port.  About  noon,  June  25th,  Captain  John 
O'Brien  discovered  a  large  ship,  and  rapidly  coming 
up  with  her  opened  fire  about  three  o'clock  in  the 
afternoon.  The  stranger  was  the  British  cruiser 
General  Patiison,  Lieutenant  Chiene,  from  New  York 
for  England,  carrying,  besides  her  regular  comple- 
ment, a  number  of  British  officers  homeward  bound. 
She  was  armed  with  6-  and  9-pounders.  After  a  de- 
sultory cannonading, lasting  from  three  to  five  o'clock 
in  the  afternoon,  Captain  O'Brien  drew  off,  feeling 
satisfied  that  the  enemy  was  too  strong  to  be  taken. 
In  this  affair  the  Americans  had  three  men  killed  and 
several  wounded,1  the  loss  of  the  enemy  being  un- 

Scarcely  had  the  Hibernia  hauled  off  from  the 
General  Pattison  when  a  British  frigate  hove  in  sight 
and  gave  the  Americans  a  hard  chase  until  midnight, 
when  she  desisted.  Continuing  her  cruise,  the  Hi- 
beruia,  on  July  7th,  took  a  schooner  which  was  sent 
into  Newburyport.  Three  days  later  she  fell  in  with 
the  12-gun  privateer  Polly 9  of  Salem,  Massachusetts, 
Captain  J.  Leach.  Leach  was  a  successful  privateers- 
man  throughout  the  war.  In  September,  1776,  while 
in  command  of  the  private  armed  schooner  DolpMn, 

1  Log  of  the  Eilerwia. 

1775-1782.        A  DABING  ATTEMPT  ON  A  FLEET.  63 

carrying  only  eight  swivels  and  twenty-five  men,  he 
captured  the  brig  Royal  George,  with  a  cargo  of  pro- 
visions, and  also  a  sloop  laden  with  fish.  Before 
Leach  got  the  Dolphin  she  was  commanded  by  Gap- 
tain  Daniel  Waters.  In  September,  1778,  Leach  was 
captain  of  the  6-gun  sloop  Happy  Return.  That  ves- 
sel captured  one  brig  and  two  sloops  laden  with  fustic 
and  rum. 

At  the  time  Captain  Leach  fell  in  with  the 
Eilernia,  July  10,  1779,  he  was  in  command  of  the 
fine  12-gun  sloop  Polly,  carrying,  besides  her  main 
guns,  eight  swivels  and  one  hundred  men.  The  Polly 
had  been  hanging  on  the  outskirts  of  a  fleet  of  mer- 
chantmen, and  shortly  after  the  two  privateers  came 
together  the  fleet  hove  in  sight,  convoyed  by  a  small 
cruiser.  The  American  privateers,  after  some  adroit 
maneuvering,  captured  a  ship  carrying  thirteen  4- 
pounders,  a  brig,  and  a  schooner  laden  with  molasses. 
On  the  following  day  the  Hibernia  took  a  hermaphro- 
dite brig  in  ballast,  and  being  incumbered  with 
prisoners  Captain  John  O'Brien  placed  them  aboard 
her,  with  permission  to  make  their  most  convenient 
port.  On  the  same  day,  July  llth,  he  gave  chase  to 
another  brig  and  captured  her.  "  Had  not  Captain 
Leach  been  parted  from  me  in  the  fog  we  could  have 
taken  the  whole  fleet." 1  The  Hilernia  then  returned 
to  port  with  her  rich  prizes.  The  Polly,  in  the  follow- 
ing month,  took  a  brig  laden  with  tobacco.  In  1782 
Captain  Leach  commanded  the  privateer  St.  Mary's, 
a  brig  of  one  hundred  and  twenty-eight  men. 

A  number  of  spirited  affairs  like  that  of  the  Mar- 
garetta  took  place  at  the  outbreak  of  the  Revolution, 
the  result  of  private  enterprise.  From  an  English 
source  we  get  the  following  account  of  an  audacious 
attack  on  British  transports  by  an  American  priva- 
teer: "On  the  23d  of  November,  1775,  a  small  fleet 
of  transports  under  the  convoy  of  the  frigate  Tartar 

1  Journal  of  Captain  John  O'Brien, 

64:  BEGINNING  HOSTILITIES.  1775-1776. 

arrived  off  Boston,  and,  with  the  exception  of  two, 
safely  entered  the  port.  The  ship  Hunter  and  a  brig, 
owing  to  a  shift  in  the  wind,  were  obliged  to  anchor 
outside  the  harbor,  which,  being  observed  by  two 
American  privateers  that  had  been  following  the  con- 
voy, they,  in  the  most  daring  manner,  attacked  and 
boarded  them,  setting  them  on  fire.  A  signal  was 
immediately  made  for  the  Raven  to  weigh  anchor 
and  go  in  chase,  but  Lieutenant  John  Bourmaster, 
who  had  been  appointed  to  protect  Boston  Light- 
house, then  under  repair,  and  who  was  in  command 
of  an  armed  transport,  on  observing  the  privateers 
fire  upon  the  Hunter,  set  sail  and  reached  the  trans- 
ports in  time  to  save  them  from  destruction." 

In  April,  1775,  several  whaleboats  under  the  com- 
mand of  one  N.  Smith  captured  the  British  schooner 
Volante  in  Martha's  Vineyard.  The  Volante  was  a 
tender  to  the  British  frigate  Scarborough,Qne  of  whose 
prizes,  as  we  have  just  seen,  was  captured  by  Cap- 
tain Jeremiah  O'Brien.  In  December  of  the  same 
year  four  boats  under  the  command  of  James  Bar- 
ron,  afterward  a  captain  in  the  navy,  captured  a  Brit- 
ish tender  in  Chesapeake  Bay.  A  whaleboat  carry- 
ing three  swivels  and  twenty-two  men,  under  the  com- 
mand of  one  B.  Bormer,  in  the  same  year  seized  an 
English  sloop  mounting  six  guns,  and  afterward  re- 
captured two  prizes  off  Ocracoke  Inlet,  North  Caro- 

From  November  13,  1775,  to  the  evacuation  of 
Boston  by  the  British,  March  17, 1776,  thirty-one  Eng- 
lish vessels,  while  endeavoring  to  gain  port,  were  cap- 
tured by  the  vigilant  Americans.  In  this  period  there 
were  only  a  few  State  cruisers  in  commission  off 
Boston,  so  that  a  good  share  of  these  captures  must 
be  credited  to  private  enterprise.  General  Washing- 
ton, on  his  own  responsibility,  borrowed  two  vessels 
from  Massachusetts  and  sent  them  into  the  Gulf  of 
St.  Lawrence  to  intercept  military  supplies  consigned 
to  the  enemy.  These  were  the  schooners  Lynch  and 

1775-1776.      WASHINGTON  SENDS  OUT  CRUISERS.  65 

Franklin,  the  first  carrying  six  guns,  ten  swivels,  and 
seventy  men,  under  the  command  of  Captain  Nicholas 
Broughton;  and  the  second  carrying  four  guns,  ten 
swivels,  and  sixty  men,  commanded  by  Captain  John 
Selman.  When  first  commissioned  the  Lynch  was 
commanded  by  Captain  John  Ayres,  her  first  and  sec- 
ond officers  being  John  Roche  and  John  Tiley.  From 
the  circumstance  of  all  her  officers  bearing  the  same 
first  name,  this  craft  was  jokingly  dubbed  The  Three 
Johns.  Ayres  soon  was  succeeded  by  John  Selman 
as  commander,  so  that  the  nickname  of  the  boat  was 
in  no  way  disturbed. 

The  Lynch  and  Franklin  were  highly  successful, 
notwithstanding  the  fact  that  their  commanders 
missed  their  way  to  the  St.  Lawrence  and  brought 
up  in  the  Bay  of  Fundy.  In  the  fall  of  1775  they  made 
ten  prizes  and  captured  Governor  Wright,  of  St. 
John's.  "  All  of  the  vessels  were  released,  however," 
wrote  Elbridge  Gerry  to  John  Adams,  "  as  we  had 
waged  a  ministerial  war,  and  not  one  against  our  most 
gracious  Sovereign."  In  the  spring  of  1776  the  Frank- 
lin, then  commanded  by  Captain  James  Mugford,  cap- 
tured the  ship  Hope  and  brought  her  safely  into  port. 
She  was  laden  with  fifteen  hundred  barrels  of  gun- 
powder, a  large  quantity  of  intrenching  tools,  gun 
carriages,  and  other  stores  which  were  intended  for 
the  British  army,  all  of  which  were  duly  forwarded 
to  the  troops  under  Washington— a  sufficient  com- 
mentary on  his  wisdom  in  sending  such  craft  to  sea. 

The  American  commander  in  chief  also  sent  out 
the  little  cruisers  Lee  and  Harrison,  issuing  their  com- 
missions with  his  own  hand.  The  Lee  was  commanded 
by  Captain  Daniel  Waters,  her  first  and  second  offi- 
cers being  Eichard  Stiles  and  Nicholas  Ogilby;  while 
the  Harrison  was  under  the  orders  of  Captain  Charles 
Dyar,  her  first  and  second  officers  being  Thomas  Dote 
and  John  Wigglesworth.  The  Lee  belonged  to  the 
State  of  Massachusetts,  and  while  under  the  com- 
mand of  Captain  John  Manly  made  one  of  the  most 

66  BEGINNING  HOSTILITIES,  1775-1776. 

important  captures  of  the  war.  On  November  29, 
1775,  she  entered  Cape  Ann  Roads  with  her  prize,  the 
Nancy,  the  latter  being  laden  with  two  thousand  mus- 
kets and  bayonets,  eight  thousand  fuses,  thirty-one 
tons  of  musket  shots,  three  thousand  rounds  of  shot 
for  12-pounders,  a  13-inch  mortar,  two  6-pounders, 
several  barrels  of  powder,  and  fifty  "  carcasses,"  or 
great  frames  for  combustibles,  designed  for  the  pur- 
pose of  setting  buildings  on  fire. 

On  December  8th  this  cruiser  captured  three  ves- 
sels: the  Jenny,  carrying  two  guns,  a  crew  of  twenty 
men,  and  a  cargo  of  provisions;  the  Concord,  with  a 
cargo  of  dry  goods,  and  the  Hannah,  a  brig,  with  a 
cargo  of  rum.  These  vessels  were  not  taken  without 
a  fierce  struggle  with  a  fourth,  the  convoying  ship, 
which,  though  mounting  eight  guns,  was  finally 
beaten  off.  The  prizes  were  brought  into  port,  and 
the  Hannah's  cargo  alone  netted  twenty-five  thousand 
dollars  to  her  captors.  On  the  same  day  the  Harrison 
captured  the  schooner  Industry  and  the  sloop  Polly. 
Soon  after  this  lucky  stroke  she  was  chased  into 
Gloucester  by  the  British  cruiser  Falcon.  By  running 
close  inshore  the  Lee  inflicted  considerable  injury  on 
her  pursuer  and  escaped.  This  is  the  second  unlucky 
experience  we  have  noted  the  Falcon  as  having  with 
Americans,  for  in  this  same  bay  the  Falcon's  boats 
were  repulsed  in  an  attempt  to  take  one  of  Captain 
Jeremiah  O'Brien's  prizes.  For  these  valuable  serv- 
ices Manly  received  a  commission,  April  17,  1776,  as 
captain  in  the  Continental  navy,  and  the  command 
of  the  32-gun  frigate  Hancock  was  given  to  him.1 

On  the  retirement  of  Manly  from  the  command  of 
the  Lee,  Captain  Waters,  as  has  been  noted,  assumed 
charge  of  that  cruiser.  Early  on  the  morning  of  June 
17, 1776,  the  Lee,  in  company  with  three  small  priva- 
teers out  of  New  England  ports,  fell  in  with  two 

1  For  Manl/s  subsequent  brilliant  career  in  this  -war  see  Chapter  XY, 
" Captain  John  Manly." 

1776.          CAPTURING  A  THIRD  OF  A  REGIMENT.  67 

heavily  armed  British  transports,  the  Annabella  and 
the  Howe,  and  immediately  began  a  running  fight 
with  them,  the  enemy  putting  on  all  sail  to  escape. 
They  finally  evaded  the  Americans  by  running  into 
Nantasket  Koads. 

Toward  evening  the  Americans  met  the  Massa- 
chusetts State  cruiser  Defense,  Captain  Seth  Harding, 
which  had  sailed  from  Plymouth  that  morning,  and, 
being  attracted  by  the  heavy  firing,  drew  toward  the 
scene  of  hostilities.  An  arrangement  was  soon  made 
between  Harding,  Waters,  and  the  privateersmen, 
and  about  eleven  o'clock  the  Defense  boldly  ran  into 
the  Eoads,  and  getting  between  the  two  transports, 
within  pistol-shot  distance,  Harding  called  upon  the 
British  to  strike  their  colors.  A  voice  from  one  of 
the  troopships  was  heard,  in  reply,  "Ay,  ay — I'll 
strike,"  and  a  broadside  was  poured  into  the  Defense. 
The  Americans  promptly  responded,  and  after  an 
hour  of  heavy  firing  the  British  called  for  quarter. 
The  transports  were  found  to  have  on  board  about 
two  hundred  regulars  of  the  Seventy-first  Regiment. 
Among  the  prisoners  was  Lieutenant  Campbell. 
Eighteen  of  the  Englishmen  had  been  killed  in  the 
action  and  a  larger  number  were  wounded.  On  the 
part  of  the  Americans  not  one  was  killed  and  only 
nine  were  injured.  Among  the  British  dead  was 
Major  M6nzies,  who  had  answered  the  summons  to 
surrender  with  "Ay,  ay— HI  strike."  Lieutenant 
Campbell  afterward  was  exchanged,  was  again  cap- 
tured by  our  sea  forces,  and  finally,  having  attained 
the  rank  of  lieutenant-colonel,  distinguished  him- 
self in  the  southern  campaigns  against  Greene. 

On  the  following  morning  the  Americans  discov- 
ered another  sail  in  the  offing,  which  was  chased,  and 
on  being  captured  proved  to  be  the  transport  John 
and  George,  carrying  six  guns  and  having  on  board 
one  hundred  soldiers  of  the  same  regiment.  By 
this  daring  stroke  the  private  armed  vessels  cap- 
tured three  hundred  men  of  one  of  the  best  English 

68  BEGINNING  HOSTILITIES.  1774-1779. 

regiments  in  America.  The  Defense,  in  1779,  was  lost 
in  the  ill-fated  Penobscot  expedition. 

Some  of  the  other  States  also  fitted  out  cruisers 
at  the  outbreak  of  hostilities.  On  November  14, 1775, 
Clement  Lemprtere  was  placed  in  command  of  the 
South  Carolina  ship  Prosper.  On  the  llth  of  the  same 
month  the  armed  schooner  Defense,  also  belonging 
to  that  State,  while  sinking  some  hulks  in  Hog  Island 
Creek,  Charleston  harbor,  was  fired  on  by  the  British 
16-gun  ship  Tamar  and  the  6-gun  schooner  Cherokee. 
On  December  21, 1775,  North  Carolina  authorized  the 
equipment  of  three  armed  vessels  for  the  protection 
of  her  coast  trade.  She  also  armed  the  sloop  Sally  for 
river  defense,  Virginia  early  established  a  board  of 
commissioners  to  superintend  her  naval  affairs. 

That  all  our  private  maritime  enterprises  were  not 
successful  is  shown  by  British  records.  From  1774 
to  1776  the  enemy  claim  to  have  captured  the  follow- 
ing vessels  belonging  to  the  rebelling  colonies: 
The  BeUsarius,  of  twenty  guns;  the  Hussar,  of  twenty- 
four  guns;  the  Sullivan,  of  eighteen  guns;  the  Tobago, 
of  twelve  guns,  and  the  Warren.  •  These  vessels  no- 
where appear  in  American  records;  but  although 
some  of  them,  while  classed  in  British  accounts  under 
the  general  head  "  American,"  doubtless  belonged  to 
other  North  American  colonies  aside  from  the  thir- 
teen in  revolt,  yet  one  or  two  of  them  may  have  been 
correctly  traced.  The  fact  that  this  list  includes  ves- 
sels taken  as  early  as  1774  also  leaves  room  for  the 
supposition  that  some  of  them  may  have  been  un- 
armed coasting  vessels  arbitrarily  detained  by  the 
British  blockading  ships. 

The  private  armed  brig  Washington,  Captain  Mar- 
tindale,  carrying  ten  guns,  ten  swivels,  and  eighty 
men,  was  captured  oft  the  coast  of  North  Carolina 
by  the  British  frigate  Fowey  and  carried  into  Boston. 
This  vessel,  together  with  four  other  ships  seized  by 
the  enemy,  were  left  in  Boston  in  a  dismantled  state 
after  they  evacuated  that  city. 



WHEN  the  American  colonists  finally  realized  that 
they  must  resort  to  open  hostilities  in  order  to  main- 
tain their  rights,  they  became  extremely  active  in  fit- 
ting out  vessels  at  private  expense.  Every  seaport 
soon  had  its  quota  of  privateers  scouring  the  seas  or 
hovering  on  the  coasts  of  the  enemy.  Merchant  ships 
that  were  no  longer  able  to  ply  their  usual  trade  were 
hastily  fitted  with  a  few  guns  and  were  sent  to  sea 
with  a  commission.  Fishing  smacks  were  divested 
of  their  cargoes  and  were  transformed  into  belliger- 
ent craft,  while  even  whaleboats  ventured  out, 
and  in  many  cases  succeeded  in  making  valuable 

In  the  first  two  years  of  the  war  New  Hampshire, 
although  pretending  to  only  one  considerable  seaport, 
sent  out  eight  privateers,  while  her  powerful  neigh- 
bor, Massachusetts,  had  in  commission  fifty-three. 
Little  Ehode  Island  and  Connecticut  had  six  and 
twenty-two,  respectively,  and  even  New  York,  whose 
principal  seaport  was  held  by  the  British  through 
most  of  the  war,  managed  to  secure  seven  commis- 
sions. New  Jersey,  in  the  first  two  years,  had  only 
one  privateer  credited  to  her,  but  Pennsylvania  had 
thirteen  and  Maryland  twenty-one,  while  six  were 
sent  out  from  South  Carolina  and  three  from  North 
Carolina,  making  a  total  of  one  hundred  and  forty- 
two  privateers  fitted  out  by  the  colonists  in  the  first 
two  full  years  of  the  war.  "  The  people  have  gone 

70  FIRST  TWO  YEARS.  1776. 

mad  a-privateering,"  said  one  of  the  writers  of  the 
day,  and  in  some  cases  the  expression  "  the  enemy's 
coasts  are  swarming  with  our  armed  ships  "  was  lit- 
erally true.  This  was  especially  the  case  off  Halifax 
and  in  the  Gulf  of  St.  Lawrence,  where  so  many 
American  privateers  had  collected  that  they,  in  truth, 
very  much  interfered  with  one  another.  In  reading 
over  the  personal  narratives  of  privateersmen  con- 
cerned in  that  period,  it  is  surprising  in  how  many 
instances  we  find  American  privateers  chased  by 
their  own  countrymen,  and  in  some  instances  guns, 
provisions,  and  other  equipage  were  thrown  away  in 
frantic  effort  to  escape  from  friends. 

Among  the  first  of  these  privateers  to  get  to  sea 
were  the  Yankee,  the  Yankee  Hero,  and  the  Yankee 
Ranger,  all  of  Massachusetts.  Like  the  vessels  bear- 
ing the  name  "  Yankee  "  in  the  War  of  1812,  this  trio 
of  Revolutionary  Yankees  had  singularly  exciting  and 
varied  experiences.  The  Yankee  was  a  large  sloop, 
carrying  nine  guns  and  a  complement  of  sixteen  men, 
under  the  command  of  Captain  Johnson.  She  got  to 
sea  early  in  the  war,  and  in  July,  1776,  captured  the 
valuable  British  merchantmen  Oreighton  and  Zachara, 
laden  with  rum  and  sugar.  Johnson  detailed  prize 
crews  to  man  these  vessels,  and  then  proceeded  to 
escort  them  to  an  American  port.  Before  gaining  a 
place  of  safety,  however,  the  prisoners  in  the  prizes 
rose  on  their  captors,  retook  the  ships,  and  then 
united  in  an  attack  on  the  Yankee.  Captain  Johnson, 
as  we  have  noted,  had  only  sixteen  men,  which  num- 
ber had  been  seriously  reduced  by  the  drafts  for 
prize  crews.  Each  of  the  British  crews  numbered 
more  than  the  entire  crew  of  the  Yankee,  and,  as  the 
merchantmen  were  well  armed,  the  prisoners  soon 
compelled  the  privateer  to  surrender.  The  Greighton 
and  Zachara  arrived  at  Dover,  England,  with  their 
prize,  the  Yankee,  and  Captain  Johnson,  with  his  men, 
was  thrown  into  Mill  Prison. 

Scarcely  less  unfortunate  than  the  Yankee  was  the 


TanJceeHero,  Captain  J.  Tracy,  a  brig  of  fourteen  guns, 
with  a  crew  of  forty  men.  In  June,  1776,  this  priva- 
teer was  chased  by  the  English  frigate  Lively.  Cap- 
tain Tracy  did  his  best  to  outsail  his  powerful  pur- 
suer, but  the  Englishman  managed  to  get  alongside 
and  compelled  the  Americans  to  surrender;  not,  how- 
ever, until  the  latter  had  made  a  desperate  resistance, 
in  which  four  of  their  number  were  killed  and  thir- 
teen were  wounded.  The  Yankee  Ranger  was  more 
fortunate  than  either  of  her  sisters.  In  August,  1776, 
she  made  prizes  of  three  brigs  laden  with  cotton, 
coffee,  and  oil. 

Some  of  the  other  successful  privateers  from 
Massachusetts  were  the  10-gun  schooner  America,  Cap- 
tain McNeil,  which  in  October,  1777,  captured  a  ship 
laden  with  rum,  sugar,  wine,  and  logwood.  The  12- 
gun  brig  Charming  Peggy,  Captain  J.  Jauncey,  in 
October,  1776,  seized  a  small  vessel  having  a  cargo  of 
provisions,  and  the  schooner  Dolphin,  Captain  Leach, 
in  September,  1776,  captured  the  brig  Royal  George 
(also  laden  with  provisions)  and  a  sloop  loaded  with 
fish.  The  brig  Hannah  and  Molly,  Captain  Crabtree, 
in  the  same  year  took  a  ship  mounting  four  guns  and 
eight  swivels,  one  brig,  two  schooners,  and  a  sloop — 
a  very  successful  cruise  for  that  day.  These  vessels 
were  taken  by  a  stratagem  in  the  harbor  of  Liver- 
pool, Nova  Scotia.  The  6-gun  schooner  Independence, 
Captain  Nichols,  in  September,  1776,  captured  six 
vessels;  while  the  Independency,  Captain  Gill,  in  the 
same  month  took  a  brig,  but  it  was  retaken  by  the 

In  September,  1776,  the  8-gun  brig  Joseph,  Captain 
C.Babbidge,  afterward  commanded  by  Captains  Field 
and  West,  made  a  prize  of  a  schooner  in  ballast,  and 
two  months  later  took  a  valuable  ship.  In  Septem- 
ber, 1776,  the  16-gun  brig  Massachusetts,  Captain  D. 
Souther,  captured  a  brig  of  six  guns  and  twenty-eight 
men,  having  on  board  a  company  of  dragoons.  About 
the  same  time  the  12-gun  sloop  RepuUic,  Captain  John 


FIRST  TWO  YBABS.  1776. 

Foster  Williams,1  captured  two  valuable  ships,  one 
named  Julius  Ccesar,  and  sent  them  into  Boston.  The 
Retaliation,  a  10-gun  brig  commanded  by  a  Mr.  Giles, 
took,  in  the  same  year,  after  a  severe  action  of  two 
hours'  duration,  a  ship  armed  with  two  guns. 

Most  successful  of  all  the  privateers  commissioned 
from  Massachusetts  in  the  first  two  years  of  the  war 
was  the  12-gun  sloop  Revenge,  Captain  J.  White.  In 
August,  1776,  this  vessel  captured  the  ships  Anna 
Maria  and  Polly  (the  former  with  a  cargo  of  rum  and 
sugar,  and  the  latter  laden  with  wine),  the  brigs 
Harlequin  and  Fanny,  laden  with  rum  and  sugar;  the 
sloop  Betsey,  and  one  other  that  was  given  up  to  the 
prisoners.  Prizes  also  were  taken  in  this  year  by  the 
Massachusetts  privateers  Rover,  Captain  Forrester,  a 
sloop  of  eight  guns,  and  the  8-gun  sloop  Speedwell, 
Captain  Greely.  The  Rover  had  an  action  with  the 
British  merchant  ship  Africa,  which  was  maintained 
with  much  obstinacy  until  a  shot  ignited  the  Africa's 
magazine,  blowing  the  craft  to  pieces,  only  three  of 
her  complement  of  twenty-six  men  being  saved.  The 
Rover  also  took  the  brigs  Mary  and  James,  Sarah  Ann, 
•and  Good  Intent,  besides  the  snow  Lively. 

On  October  14,  1776,  the  6-gun  schooner  General 
Gates,  Captain  B.  Tatem,  Captured  a  schooner,  but 
shortly  afterward,  while  off  Portsmouth,  New  Hamp- 
shire, was  herself  taken  by  the  English  brig  Hope. 
The  American  commander  and  his  men  escaped  by 
swimming  ashore.  While  cruising  off  Boston,  June, 
1776,  the  sloop  Lady  Washington,  Captain  Cunning- 
ham, was  attacked  by  four  armed  barges  from  British 
war  ships.  The  privateer  beat  the  boats  off,  killing 
several  of  the  Englishmen.  In  October  the  Lady 
WasUngton,  again  cruising  near  Boston,  captured  a 
ship  with  a  cargo  of  rum,  sugar,  and  cotton.  In  the 
same  month  the  6-gun  schooner  Liberty,  Captain 

1  Afterward  a  successful  commander  in  the  service  of  Massachusetts. 
See  vol.  i,  p.  99,  Maclay's  History  of  the  Navy.  , 

1776-1779.    NEW  YORK  AND  MARYLAND  PRIVATEERS.      73 

Pierce,  seized  a  ship  with  a  cargo  of  fish  and  lum- 

The  Baltimore  Hero  was  one  of  the  first  privateers 
to  leave  the  waters  of  Maryland.  She  was  a  schooner 
carrying  from  six  to  fourteen  guns,  and  was  com- 
manded at  first  by  Captain  T.  Waters,  and  in  1779 
by  Captain  J.  Earle.  Under  Earle  she  had  an  action 
with  a  British  privateer  schooner  of  fourteen  guns 
in  Chesapeake  Bay  and  captured  her.  About  the 
same  time  the  Baltimore  Hero  put  to  sea  the  Betsey, 
Captain  B.  Dashiell,  sailed  from  the  Chesapeake.  She 
was  a  sloop  of  ten  guns.  A  private  armed  brig  of  the 
same  name  sailed  from  Maryland  waters  under  the 
command  of  Captain  J.  Brice  in  1777,  and  under  Cap- 
tain B.  Brudhurst  in  1778.  Betsey  seems  to  have  been 
a  favorite  name  for  privateers  in  this  war,  New 
York,  Massachusetts,  Pennsylvania,  Ehode  Island, 
and  Connecticut  each  being  credited  with  a  Betsey. 

The  6-gun  sloop  Beaver,  Captain  S.  Dean,  sailed 
from  New  York  in  1776,  1779,  and  again  in  1781.  In 
June,  1779,  she  captured  a  sloop.  A  privateer 
schooner  of  this  name,  but  carrying  twice  the  number 
of  guns,  was  commissioned  from  Connecticut  in  1778, 
under  the  command  of  Captain  D.  Scoville,  and  one 
from  Pennsylvania,  commanded  by  Captain  W.  Har- 
ris. Between  August  3  and  6, 1776,  the  10-gun  sloop 
Broom,  Captain  W.  Knott,  of  Connecticut,  captured 
the  ship  Charles  and  Sally,  the  snow  Ann,  and  the 
brigs  Caroline  and  John.  These  vessels  were  laden 
with  rum,  sugar,  and  fustic.  Of  the  other  private 
armed  vessels  sailing  from  Connecticut  the  Washing- 
ton, Warren,  Spy,  and  Shark  were  the  most  success- 
ful. In  September,  1776,  the  Washington,  Captain 
Odiorne,  took  the  brig  Georgia  and  a  schooner,  both 
laden  with  rum  and  sugar,  besides  making  prize  of 
a  snow  having  a  cargo  of  cannon  aboard. 

The  Warren,  Captain  Coas,  in  April  took  the  sloop 
Betsey  md  Potty,  and  in  the  following  June,  while 
under  the  command  of  Captain  Phillips,  seized  a 

f4-  FIRST  TWO  YEARS.  1776-1779. 

transport  armed  with  four  guns  and  having  on  board 
one  hundred  soldiers.  Several  weeks  later  this  priva- 
teer captured  the  ship  Isaac  and  Picary,  and  in  Au- 
gust she  captured  a  brig  carrying  three  guns  and  ten 
swivels.  In  this  prize  was  a  quantity  of  gold  dust 
and  ivory.  Before  the  close  of  the  year  the  Warren 
herself  fell  into  the  hands  of  the  British  frigate  Liver- 
pool The  Spy  and  Shark  cruised  for  some  time  with 
Captain  Hopkins'  squadron,  and  in  August,  1776,  the 
former  took  the  ship  Hope,  and  in  the  following 
month  the  schooner  Mary  and  Elizabeth,  both  prizes 
being  laden  with  coffee  and  sugar.  In  1779  the  Shark 
made  four  prizes. 

Of  the  privateers  that  put  to  sea  early  in  the  war 
those  from  Pennsylvania  seem  to  have  met  with  the 
greatest  success.  The  Chance,  a  little  sloop  mounting 
four  guns,  under  the  command  of  Captain  J.  Adams, 
in  May,  1776,  took  the  valuable  ship  Lady  Juliana. 
The  24-gun  privateer  Cornet,  about  the  same  time, 
while  off  St.  Kitts,  fell  in  with  a  heavily  armed  Brit- 
ish merchantman,  and  for  three  hours  engaged  her  at 
close  quarters,  when  the  Englishmen  managed  to 
escape  with  the  loss  of  their  mizzenmast. 

The  audacity  of  Captain  S.  Cleaveland,  of  the  brig 
Despatch,  is  typical.  This  vessel  left  Philadelphia 
without  a  gun  aboard,  her  commander  taking  his 
chances  of  capturing  some  kind  of  an  armament  on 
the  passage  across  the  Atlantic  or  of  purchasing  guns 
in  France.  Captain  Cleaveland  had  not  been  to  sea 
many  days  before  he  captured  a  vessel,  and,  trans- 
ferring the  guns  to  his  own  ship,  continued  his  cruise. 
The  12-gun  brig  General  Mifflin,  Captain  J.  Hamil- 
ton, in  1776  made  directly  for  British  waters,  where 
she  took  several  valuable  vessels,  one  of  them  being  a 
ship  with  a  cargo  of  wine.  On  her  return  passage 
the  General  Mifflin  fell  in  with  a  British  privateer 
carrying  eighteen  guns  and  eighty  men.  An  action 
•was  immediately  begun,  and  the  Englishmen,  after 
having  sustained  a  loss  of  twenty-two  killed  or 

1776-1775.  PENNSYLVANIA  GUNBOATS.  75 

wounded,  including  their  commander,  surrendered. 
The  American  casualties  were  thirteen. 

In  October  of  the  same  year  the  General  Mont- 
gomery, a  brig  of  twelve  guns  and  one  hundred  men, 
under  Captain  Montgomery,  came  across  a  fleet  of 
one  hundred  merchantmen,  convoyed  by  several  Brit- 
ish war  ships.  By  adroit  maneuvering  the  privateer 
managed  to  cut  out  one  of  the  merchantmen,  the  ship 
Thetis,  with  a  cargo  of  rum  and  sugar. 

Other  privateers  commissioned  from  Pennsylvania 
that  got  to  sea  early  in  the  war  were  the  6-gun  brig 
Nancy,  the  14-gun  snow  Ranger,  and  the  14-gun  brig 
Sturdy  Beggar.  The  Nancy,  on  June  29,  1776,  was 
chased  ashore  near  Cape  Henry  by  a  British  cruiser. 
After  getting  a  portion  of  their  cargo  and  powder 
on  land  the  Americans  blew  the  Nancy  up.  The 
Ranger,  Captain  Hudson,  captured  two  storeships 
laden  with  military  supplies.  The  Sturdy  Beggar,  in 
May,  1778,  was  captured,  with  eight  other  American 
vessels,  in  Croswell  Creek  by  an  English  force  con- 
sisting of  two  schooners,  four  gunboats,  four  galleys, 
and  about  twenty  flatboats,  under  the  command  of 
Captain  Henry,  of  the  Royal  Navy,  and  Major  Mait- 

Besides  her  privateers  Pennsylvania  had  a  num- 
ber of  galleys  built  especially  for  river  defense.  They 
were  armed  with  two  or  three  guns  each  and  carried 
from  twenty  to  fifty  men.  These  boats  were  con- 
structed under  a  resolution  passed  by  the  Pennsyl- 
vania Council  of  Safety,  July  6,  1775,  under  which 
Eobert  White  and  Owen  Biddle  were  appointed  a  com- 
mittee to  attend  to  the  construction  of  these  gun- 
boats and  to  prepare  machines  for  the  defense  of  the 
Delaware.  The  first  of  these  boats  to  be  launched 
was  the  Bull  Dog,  built  by  the  Messrs.  Manuel,  Jehu, 
and  Benjamin  George  Eyre,  for  half  a  century  well- 
known  shipbuilders  in  Philadelphia.  The  Bull  Dog, 
Captain  Henderson,  took  the  water  July  26, 1775,  and 
the  others  followed  in  rapid  succession.  They  were 




the  Burke,  Captain  Blair;  the  Camden,  Captain  Nicho- 
las Biddle,  afterward  famous  in  the  navy;  the 
Chatham,  Captain  J.  Montgomery;  the  Congress,  Cap- 
tain Hamilton;  the  Convention,  Captain  J.  Kice;  the 
Delaware,  Captain  Doughty;  the  Dickinson,  Captain 
Eice;  the  Effingham,  Captain  Mears;  the  Experiment, 
Captain  Thompson;  the  Franklin,  Captain  Biddle;  the 
Hancock,  Captain  Moore;  the  Spitfire,  Captain  Grimes; 

and  the  Warren.  The  Spitfire, 
on  August  3,  1776,  took  part 
in  the  attack  on  the  British 
war  ships  Rose  and  Ph&ni®  in 
Hudson  River.  In  this  affair 
the  Spitfire  had  one  man 
killed  and  thre.e  wounded. 
Pennsylvania  also  had  a  fire 
ship  called  the  &tna,  com- 
manded by  William  Gamble. 
The  Ranger,  a  craft  hastily 
fitted  for  harbor  defense,  in 
October,  1775,  under  the 
orders  of  Captain  Hume,  cap- 
tured a  West  India  privateer. 
The  vessel  was  carried  by 
boarding,  the  English  having 
some  forty  men  killed  or 
wounded  before  they  surrendered. 

Among  the  first  privateers  to  get  to  sea  from 
South  Carolina  was  the  14-gun  brig  Cornet,  Captain 
J.  Turpin.  This  vessel  sailed  on  her  first  cruise  with- 
out instructions.  On  November  2, 1776,  she  captured 
the  ship  Clarissa,  the  schooner  Maria,  and  the  sloop 
George.  The  Clarissa  was  laden  with  lumber  and  had 
on  board  forty  negroes. 

New  York,  having  her  most  available  seaport  in 
the  hands  of  the  enemy  during  the  greater  part  of 
the  war,  did  not  send  out  her  usual  quota  of  armed 
craft.  Some  of  her  ships  put  to  sea,  however,  and 
were  successful.  The  sloop  Montgomery,  Captain  Wil- 

Oolonel  Jehu  Eyre  of  the 
Philadelphia  firm  of  ship- 

Prom  a  silhouette. 


liam  Bodgers,  in  1776  captured  two  brigs,  one 
schooner,  and  one  sloop;  while  the  privateer  Schuyler, 
Captain  J.  Smith,  in  June  took  a  ship  having  on  board 
twenty  prisoners.  In  August  the  Schuyler  seized  five 
other  vessels  and  recaptured  the  Nancy.  The  galley 
Whiting,  Captain  McCleave,  on  August  3,  1776,  took 
part  in  the  attack  on  the  British  war  ships  Rose  and 
Phceniw,  the  galley  having  one  man  killed  and  four 

The  only  privateer  from  New  Jersey  that  suc- 
ceeded in  getting  to  sea  early  in  the  war  was  the 
schooner  Enterprise,  Captain  J.  Campbell.  In  July 
and  August,  1776,  she  captured  the  ship  Lancaster, 
carrying  four  guns  and  sixteen  men;  the  ship  Black 
Snake,  with  a  cargo  of  rum  and  sugar;  the  snow  James, 
having  twenty-three  men  and  a  cargo  of  molasses  and 
rum,  and  the  ship  Modesty,  laden  with  sugar.  On  July 
22d  the  Enterprise  captured  the  ship  Earl  of  Errol, 
mounting  six  guns  and  having  a  cargo  valued  at  one 
hundred  thousand  dollars.  On  the  same  day  the 
Enterprise  took  the  ship  Nevis  after  a  spirited  action 
of  one  hour.  * 

New  Hampshire,  in  1776,  sent  out  the  12-gun  brig 
Putnam,  Captain  J.  Harman,  which  in  one  cruise  cap- 
tured a  ship  and  four  schooners.  Other  private  armed 
craft  sent  out  from  Portsmouth  in  this  year  were  the 
brig  Enterprise,  Captain  D.  Jackson;  the  14-gun  sloop 
Harlequin,  Captain  D.  Shaw;  the  6-gun  schooner 
McClary,  Captain  B.  Parker;  and  the  20-gun  ship 

The  privateers  sent  out  from  Ehode  Island  in  1776 
were  highly  successful.  Between  July  1st  and  Au- 
gust 30th  the  Diamond,  Captain  N.  Chase,  captured 
the  ships  Jane,  Star  and  Garter,  and  Friendship,  the 
brig  Mars,  and  the  snow  Portland.  These  vessels  had 
cargoes  of  cocoa,  fustic,  rum,  and  sugar.  In  August 
the  privateer  Eagle,  Captain  Paine,  took  the  ship 
Vewj$,with  a  cargo  of  mahogany,  shells,  etc.  She  also 
seized  another  ship  (name  not  given)  laden  with  rum, 

78  FIRST  TWO  TEARS.  1776. 

sugar,  cotton,  and  the  brig  Virginia,  with  a  cargo  of 
tobacco.  In  the  following  October  the  brig  Favorite, 
Captain  Coffin,  captured  a  ship  and  a  schooner,  with 
cargoes  of  pimento,  rum,  and  sugar.  Two  years  later 
the  same  privateer,  while  under  the  orders  of  Cap- 
tain Lamb,  captured  a  ship  armed  with  sixteen  guns 
haying  a  cargo  of  logwood.  The  10-gun  brig  Industry, 
Captain  Child,  in  1776,  captured  a  brig,  and  then  had 
a  drawn  battle  with  a  ship  of  ten  guns.  The  action 
lasted  two  hours,  with  a  loss  of  two  killed  and  six 
wounded  on  the  part  of  the  American.  In  October  the 
16-gun  ship  Montgomery,  Captain  Bucklon,  captured 
the  ships  Rover,  Isabella,  and  Harlequin  and  the  brigs 
Devonshire  and  Henry.  The  12-gun  brig  Putnam,  Cap- 
tain Ferguson,  took  four  ships;  and  the  same  vessel, 
while  under  the  command  of  Captain  C.  Whipple, 
captured  two  snows,  one  brig,  and  had  a  severe  action 
with  an  armed  ship.  The  Independence,  of  ten  guns, 
also  made  a  cruise  under  Captain  Thomas  Whipple. 



WE  can  better  appreciate  the  high  plane  to  which 
privateering  had  been  raised,  at  the  hands  of  Ameri- 
can seamen  in  the  war  for  independence,  when  we 
remember  that  some  sixty 
of  our  most  formidable 
privateers  were  command- 
ed by  men  who  were,  or 
soon  afterward  became, 
captains  in  the  navy.  In 
fact,  the  privateer  service 
became  the  training  school 
of  our  embryo  navy,  not 
only  in  supplying  officers, 
but  seamen.  The  condi- 
tions of  early  privateering 
were  such  as  to  develop 
an  exceptionally  capable 
group  of  officers,  and  not  a 
little  of  the  marvelous  suc- 
cess attained  by  the  infant  navy  of  the  United  States 
is  directly  traceable  to  this  circumstance. 

Among  the  first  of  our  navy  officers  to  engage  in 
privateering  was  Lieutenant  Joshua  Barney.1  Bar- 
ney had  been  taken  prisoner  early  in  the  war,  and 
after  a  confinement  of  nearly  five  months  in  the 

1  For  Barney's  brilliant,  services  in  the  War  of  1812  see  Maclay's  His- 
tory of  the  Navy,  yol.  i,  pp.  588-585. 


80  NAVY  OFFICERS  IK  PBIVATEERS.         1778-1779. 

prison  ships  at  New  York  he  was  exchanged  for  an 
English  officer  of  equal  rank — the  first  lieutenant  of 
the  British  frigate  Mermaid,  which  had  been  com- 
pelled, by  the  approach  of  the  French  fleet,  in  July, 
1778,  to  run  ashore  on  the  Jersey  side  of  the  Dela- 
ware. Making  his  way  to  Baltimore,  Barney  secured 
the  command  of  a  trading  vessel,  which  was  described 
as  "  a  fine  little  schooner,  armed  with  two  guns  and 
eight  men,"  having  a  cargo  of  tobacco  bound  for  St. 
Eustatia.  This  craft  had  a  short  and  unfortunate 
career.  In  going  down  Chesapeake  Bay  she  fell  in 
with  an  English  privateer  carrying  four  guns  and 
sixty  men,  and  after  a  running  fight  of  a  few  minutes 
was  overtaken  and  carried  by  boarding,  the  Ameri- 
cans having  one  man  killed  and  two  wounded.  As 
the  Englishman  had  no  desire  to  incumber  himself 
with  prisoners,  he  landed  them  at  Cinapuxent,  on  the 
eastern  shore  of  the  Chesapeake,  and  sailed  away 
with  the  prize. 

Lieutenant  Barney  returned  to  Baltimore,  where, 
after  several  weeks  spent  in  a  vain  endeavor  to  secure 
another  vessel,  he  met  his  old  commander,  Captain 
Isaiah  Kobinson,  whose  creditable  career  in  the  navy 
also  has  been  recorded.1  These  two  officers  soon 
came  to  an  agreement  by  which  Robinson  was  to 
secure  the  command  of  a  privateer  and  Barney  was 
to  serve  in  her  as  first  officer.  Much  difficulty  was 
found  in  securing  a  suitable  vessel,  and  still  more  in 
getting  the  necessary  arms,  ammunition,  and  men,  so 
that  it  was  not  until  February,  1779,  that  they  were 
able  to  leave  Alexandria  on  a  private  cruise.  The 
craft  they  secured  was  the  brig  Pomona,  carrying 
twelve  guns,  of  varying  calibers,  and  a  crew  of 
thirty-five  men.  She  was  loaded  with  tobacco  con- 
signed to  Bordeaux. 

The  adventures  of  these  two  navy  officers  began 
on  the  third  day  after  clearing  the  Capes,  when  they 

1  See  Maclay's  History  of  the  Navy,  vol.  i,  p.  45. 


were  discovered  by  a  vessel  and  chased.  As  Captain 
Robinson's  first  object  was  to  get  the  cargo  of  tobacco 
safely  to  France,  he  made  every  endeavor  to  avoid 
the  stranger,  but  she  proved  to  be  a  remarkably  fast 
sailer.  At  eight  o'clock  in  the  evening,  a  full,  un- 
clouded moon  giving  the  chase  every  opportunity, 
the  stranger  came  within  hailing  distance,  and,  run- 
ning up  English  colors,  asked,  "  What  ship  is  that?  " 
The  only  answer  Eobinson  made  was  to  show  his 
flag,  which  the  Englishman  immediately  ordered 

The  Pomona  then  delivered  her  broadside,  which 
brought  down  the  enemy's  fore-topsail,  cut  away  some 
of  their  rigging,  and  apparently  caused  much  sur- 
prise and  confusion  on  board.  The  Englishman  re- 
sponded with  his  battery,  and  a  running  fight  was 
kept  up  until  nearly  midnight.  Early  in  the  fight  the 
enemy  discovered  that  the  Americans  had  no  stern 
gun  ports,  and  availing  themselves  of  this  they  ma- 
neuvered for  positions  off  the  Pomona's  stern  and 
quarters  where  she  could  not  return  their  fire.  As 
an  evidence  of  the  confusion  into  which  the  enemy 
had  been  thrown  by  the  first  broadside  from  the 
Pomona,  it  was  noted  that,  with  all  their  advantage 
of  position,  the  English  gunners  were  able  to  fire  only 
one  or  two  shots  every  half  hour.  Noting  this,  Robin- 
son caused  a  port  to  be  cut  in  his  stern  and  a  long 
3-pounder  whipped  up  from  the  gun  deck  and  run  out 
of  it 

This  was  accomplished  about  midnight,  when  the 
Englishmen  were  drawing  near  for  another  shot. 
Apparently  they  had  not  discovered  the  shift  in  the 
Pomona's  armament,  for  they  drew  quite  near,  and 
received  such  a  discharge  of  grape  that  they  hauled 
off  and  did  not  again  come  within  gunshot  that 

The  light  of  day  showed  the  Americans  that  the 
stranger  was  a  brig  of  sixteen  guns,  and  as  several 
officers  could  be  seen  through  her  ports  wearing 


uniforms,  it  was  believed  that  she  was  a  regular 
cruiser.  Afterward  it  was  learned  the  stranger  was 
only  a  privateer,  and  her  officers  had  resorted  to  the 
trick  of  donning  uniform  and  displaying  themselves 
in  conspicuous  places,  so  as  to  lead  the  Americans 
to  believe  that  they  were  contending  against  one  of 
the  king's  cruisers.  This,  the  English  thought,  would 
show  the  Americans  the  hopelessness  of  the  struggle, 
and  would  induce  them  to  surrender  without  further 
resistance.  But  Captain  Eobinson  was  not  to  be 
frightened  by  gold  buttons  and  epaulets,  and  when 
about  sunrise  the  stranger  ran  close  under  the 
Pomona's  stern  for  the  purpose  of  boarding  the 
Americans  made  every  preparation  for  giving  her  a 
warm  reception.  The  solitary  3-pounder  in  the  stern 
was  loaded  with  grapeshot,  and  the  charge  was 
topped  off  by  a  crowbar  stuck  into  the  muzzle. 

Just  as  the  English  were  about  to  board  Barney, 
with  his  own  hand,  discharged  this  gun,  and  with 
such  accurate  aim  that  the  British  were  completely 
baffled  in  their  attempt,  their  foresails  and  all  their 
weather  foreshrouds  being  cut  away.  The  loss  of 
these  supports  compelled  the  Englishman  to  wear  in 
order  to  save  his  foremast  from  going  by  the  board. 
This  maneuver  gave  the  Americans  an  excellent 
chance  for  raking,  and  promptly  going  about  Robin- 
son delivered  an  effective  broadside.  The  enemy  did 
not  again  return  to  the  attack,  so  the  Pomona  resumed 
her  course,  arriving  in  Bordeaux  without  further  in- 

Captain  Eobinson  afterward  learned  that  his  an- 
tagonist was  the  privateer  Rosebud,  Captain  Duncan, 
with  a  crew  of  one  hundred  men,  of  whom  forty-seven 
were  killed  or  wounded.  The  Rosebud  made  her  way 
to  New  York,  where  Duncan  "  charged  "  the  Ameri- 
cans with  "  unfair  fighting  in  using  langrage."  The 
only  langrage  Captain  Robinson  used  on  this  occa- 
sion was  the  crowbar  referred  to. 

No  better  illustration  of  the  dare-devil  spirit  of 

1779.          THE  POMONA  CAPTURES  A  PRIVATEER.  83 

our  privateersmen  can  be  had  than  in  the  manner 
many  of  them  put  to  sea.  Any  old  tub  of  a  craft,  if 
nothing  better  offered,  would  do  them,  and  if  there 
were  no  cannon  the  junk  shops  were  ransacked  for 
old  muskets,  pistols,  blunderbusses,  swords,  hand- 
spikes, and  knives,  and  the  commander  went  to  sea  in 
the  hope  of  capturing  merchantmen  and  transferring 
their  armaments  to  his  ship.  Many  of  our  privateers 
put  to  sea  in  this  condition  and  met  with  astonish- 
ing success. 

The  Pomona  sailed  from  the  Chesapeake  with  guns, 
it  is  true,  but  with  less  than  she  was  pierced  for,  and 
the  cannon  she  did  carry  were  of  varying  and  small 
calibers,  which  made  it  difficult  to  secure  the  proper- 
sized  shot.  She  also  started  out  with  only  half  her 
complement,  hoping  to  make  up  the  full  number 
from  prospective  prisoners.  As  we  have  seen,  she 
did  not  succeed  in  making  any  priz'es  on  her  way 
across  the  Atlantic,  but  on  reaching  Bordeaux  Cap- 
tain Robinson  sold  his  cargo  of  tobacco,  and  from 
the  proceeds  loaded  with  brandy  and  purchased 
eighteen  6-pounders,  the  regular  armament  of  the 
brig,  and  a  sufficient  quantity  of  powder  and  shot. 
He  also  succeeded  in  enlisting  thirty-five  additional 
men,  raising  his  complement  to  seventy.  Sailing  from 
Bordeaux  in  the  early  part  of  August,  1779,  in  this 
much-improved  condition,  the  Pomma  shaped  her 
course  for  the  return  passage  to  America. 

One  morning  at  daylight,  when  about  halfway 
across  the  ocean,  Captain  Eobinson  made  a  sail  which, 
from  her  peculiar  maneuvers,  seemed  to  be  "feel- 
ing "  the  Pomona's  strength.  By  the  time  the  sun  rose 
the  vessels  had  come  within  gunshot  and  several 
broadsides  were  exchanged,  but  at  the  end  of  the  first 
half  hour  the  stranger  crowded  on  sail  before  the  wind 
to  escape.  The  Americans  were  promptly  in  chase, 
but  being  heavily  laden  the  Pomona  steadily  fell  be- 
hind, although  she  managed  to  keep  the  enemy  in 
sight  all  that  day. 



Toward  evening  a  squall  of  wind  and  rain  came 
on.  Availing  himself  of  this  Captain  Eobinson 
crowded  on  canvas,  and  on  again  coming  np  with  the 
stranger  exchanged  several  more  broadsides,  the 
Englishman  still  endeavoring  to  escape.  During  the 
night  the  chase  was  lost  sight  of,  but  on  the  follow- 
ing morning  she  was  made  out,  in  the  somewhat  thick 
weather,  four  or  five  miles  ahead,  it  then  being  calm. 
Captain  Robinson  now  got  out  his  sweeps,  and  by 
dint  of  hard  rowing  managed  to  get  alongside  of 
his  foe  for  the  third  time,  when  the  stranger,  without 
waiting  for  another  broadside,  surrendered  at  the 

first  summons.  The  prize 
was  found  to  be  an  Eng- 
lish privateer  carrying 
sixteen  guns,  6-  and 
9-pounders,  and  a  crew 
of  seventy  men.  Twelve 
of  her  people  had  been 
killed  and  a  number 
wounded,  besides  which 
she  had  been  seriously 
injured  in  her  hull,  rig- 
ging, and  spars.  The 
only  man  killed  in  the 
Pomona  was  a  lad  who 
had  shipped  at  Bordeaux 
as  a  passenger.  Two 
of  the  Americans  were 
wounded.  Lieutenant  Barney,  with  a  prize  crew, 
took  possession  of  the  privateer,  and  both  vessels 
arrived  safely  at  Philadelphia  in  the  following 
October.  Both  Captain  Robinson  and  Lieutenant 
Barney  realized  a  handsome  fortune  in  this  au- 
dacious venture.1 

One  of  the  most  successful  commanders  in  the 

1  For  the  continuation  of  Barney's  brilliant  career  in  the  privateer  serv- 
ice, see  chapters  xii  and  xiv,  Part  First. 

navy  of  the  Bevolution  was  Captain  John  Barry.1 
This  enterprising  officer,  like  most  of  his  brothers  in 
the  service,  at  times  was  unable  to  get  a  command 
in  the  navy,  and  employed  the  interim  by  privateer- 
ing. Some  of  the  armed  vessels  placed  under  his 
orders  were  the  10-gun  brig  Delaware,  the  6-gun  brig 
General  Montgomery,  and  the  24-gun  ship  Rover.  A 
packet  ship  mounting  six  guns,  called  the  Rover,  was 
captured  by  an  American  privateer  in  1779  under  the 
command  of  Captain  Sweet. 

Equally  successful  was  Alexander  Murray,  who 
served  with  such  distinction  as  a  captain  in  the  navy 
during  the  wars  with  France  and  Tripoli.2  While 
commanding  the  privateer  Prosperity,  a  brig  carrying 
five  6-pounders  and  twenty-five  men,  Captain  Mur- 
ray, in  1781,  sailed  for  St.  Croix  with  a  cargo  of  to- 
bacco. When  a  few  days  out  he  fell  in  with  a  British 
privateer  of  fourteen  guns,  and  after  two  hours  .of 
hard  fighting  drove  her  off.  The  enemy  made  several 
attempts  to  board,  but  were  repelled  with  great  loss. 
The  Prosperity  was  so  injured  in  this  action  that  soon 
afterward  she  lost  her  masts,  and  it  was  only  with 
great  difficulty  that  Murray  reached  St.  Thomas. 
Here  he  refitted,  and  taking  on  board  a  full  armament 
of  fourteen  guns,  he  sailed  for  the  United  States. 
When  off  Port  Boyal  he  captured  a  British  packet 

Captain  Murray  also  commanded  the  privateers 
Columbus,  the  General  Mercer,  the  Revenge,  each  of  ten 
guns,  and  the  12-gun  brig  Saratoga.  In  the  Saratoga 
Murray  captured  an  English  cutter  of  ten  guns  and 
fifty-two  men.  On  this  occasion  Captain  Murray  was 
assisted  by  Silas  Talbot,  of  the  navy.  The  Saratoga, 
in  1779,  had  just  taken  the  English  brig  Chance,  when 
the  Argo,  Captain  Talbot,  hove  in  sight,  and  after  clos- 
ing upon  the  cutter  carried  her  by  boarding,  the  Amer- 

1  For  Barry's  naval  career,  see  Maclay's  History  of  the  Navy,  vol.  i, 
j>p.  89,  42,  48,  92-94, 14&-147. 

*  See  M.ftC>/$  History  of  the  Navy,  vol.  i,  pp.  165, 167,  187, 197,  335. 

86  '      NAVY  OFFICERS  IN  PRIVATEERS.        1779-1777. 

leans  having  four  killed  and  several  wounded.  In  the 
following  year  Murray,  then  commanding  the  Re- 
venge,  cut  out  a  brig  from  a  convoy  of  fifty  sail.  Arm- 
ing his  prize  and  placing  a  good  crew  aboard,  Captain 
Murray  continued  his  cruise  in  company  with  his 
prize  as  a  "  commodore."  Soon  afterward  he  fell  in 
with  another  American  privateer,  when  the  little 
squadron  was  attacked  by  three  English  privateer 
schooners  in  company  with  an  armed  ship  and  a  brig, 
one  of  the  first  instances  of  a  "  fleet  action  "  we  have 
in  which  privateers  were  the  sole  participants.  Soon 
realizing  that  they  were  dealing  with  ships  better 
stored  with  shot  and  powder  than  with  rich  merchan- 
dise, the  American  and  British  privateersmen  de- 
sisted and  resumed  their  search  for  more  tempting 
prizes.  While  cruising  on  the  Newfoundland  Banks 
the  Revenge  captured  a  British  privateer.  Then 
standing  for  the  English  coast,  Captain  Murray  was 
chased  and  captured  by  a  frigate. 

Perhaps  the  most  successful  of  all  the  navy  offi- 
cers who  served  their  apprenticeship  in  the  priva- 
teers of  the  Bevolution  was  Thomas  Truxtun,  whose 
battles  with  two  French  frigates,  a  few  years  later, 
won  for  him  imperishable  renown.1  We  first  note 
Truxtun  in  the  10-gun  ship  Independencey  of  Pennsyl- 
vania. In  1777  he  captured  a  ship  having  a  cargo  of 
sugar.  This  merchantman  was  armed  with  sixteen 
guns,  and  did  not  surrender  without  a  stout  resist- 
ance. While  in  the  Independence  Truxtun  also  cap- 
tured a  brig  and  a  sloop  with  cargoes  of  rum,  etc. 
Two  years  later  we  find  him  in  command  of  the 
armed  ship  Andrew  Caldwell,  of  ten  guns,  which  craft 
he  shortly  exchanged  for  the  fine  24-gun  ship  Mars. 
In  the  latter  Truxtun  cruised  some  time  in  the  Brit- 
ish Channel,  making  a  number  of  prizes  which  were 
sent  into  Quiberon  Bay,  France. 

1  See  Maolay's  History  of  the  Navy,  voL  i,  pp.  160, 165, 176,  177-188, 
J9&-197,  238. 

So  great  had  been  the  success  of  Captain  Truxtun 
that  in  1781  he  was  intrusted  with  the  perilous  task  of 
convoying  across  the  Atlantic  Mr.  Barclay,  our  con- 
sul-general to  France.  The  splendid  20-gun  priva- 
teer St.  James,  having  a  complement  of  one  hundred 
men,  was  placed  under  his  command,  William  Jones, 
afterward  the  Secretary  of  the  Navy,  serving  in  her 
as  third  officer.  It  seems  that  the  British  had 
learned  of  the  proposed  sailing  of  Mr.  Barclay  for 
France,  and  being  especially 
anxious  to  intercept  him  they 
sent  out  a  sloop  of  war  from 
New  York  for  the  express 
purpose  of  capturing  him. 
How  accurately  informed  the 
enemy  were  of  our  secret 
movements  is  shown  by  the 
fact  that  this  sloop  of  war 
fell  in  with  the  8t.  James  a 
short  time  after  she  cleared 
land.  A  severe  action  was 
immediately  begun,  which  re- 
sulted in  the  Englishman 
being  forced  to  haul  off,  while  the  privateer  con- 
tinued her  way  to  France.  Having  successfully 
performed  this  hazardous  service,  Truxtun  assumed 
the  command  of  the  14-gun  ship  Commerce,  with  a 
crew  of  fifty  men.  In  December,  1782,  the  Com- 
merce, while  at  sea,  had  an  action  with  a  British 
brig  of  sixteen  guns  and  seventy-five  men  and  a 
schooner  of  fourteen  guns  and  eighty  men.  Not- 
withstanding the  disparity  of  forces,  Truxtun  pre- 
pared to  give  battle,  and  had  been  sharply  engaged 
with  one  of  these  vessels  for  twenty  minutes,  when 
a  frigate  hove  in  sight  and  compelled  the  Commerce 
to  make  all  sail  to  escape.  In  this  battle  the  Ameri- 
cans had  one  man  killed  and  two  wounded,  while  the 
loss  of  the  British  is  placed  at  fourteen  killed  and 
twenty-four  wounded. 

NAVY  OFHCEBS  IN  PEIVATEEBS.        1778-1781. 

Stephen  Decatur,  Sr.,  the  father  of  one  of  the 
heroes  of  the  War  of  1812,  commanded  five  different 
privateers  in  the  Eevolution.  The  younger  Decatur 
also  served  in  some  of  these  craft,  and  received  that 
training  which  in  later  years  did  so  much  to  make 
our  naval  officers  respected  and  feared  the  world  over. 
The  vessels  commanded  by  the  elder  Decatur  were 
the  Comet,  Fair  American,  Retaliation,  Rising  Sun,  and 
Royal  Louis.  It  was  in  the  last  ship  that  Decatur 
made  his  greatest  reputation  as  a  sea  warrior.  The 
Royal  Louis  carried  twenty-two  guns,  and  is  credited 
with  a  complement  of  two  hundred  men  —  a  veritable 

corvette.  In  July,  1781, 
the  Royal  Louis  had  a  des- 
perate action  with  the 
British  cruiser  Active,  and 
took  her  only  after  heavy 
loss  of  life  on  both  sides. 
This  was  only  one  of  the 
many  instances  in  which 
our  privateers  attacked 
and  captured  the  king's 
cruisers.1  For  these  bril- 
liant services  Stephen  De- 
catur, Sr.,  was  taken  into 
tlie  nayy  as  a  captain. 

f  r 

Daniel  McNeil,  noted 
alike  for  Ijis  eccentricities  of  character  and  bravery 
as  an  officer,  had  the  honor,  in  1778,  while  in  com- 
mand of  the  20-gun  privateer  General  Mifflin,  to  re- 
ceive a  salute  from  the  French  admiral  at  Brest. 
This  so  offended  the  British  ambassador  that  he 
threatened  to  leave  the  country.  The  General  Mifflir 
then  made  several  captures  near  the  British  coast 
one  of  her  prizes  being  a  ship  laden  with  wine.  Oi 
her  homeward  passage  from  France  the  Genera 

1  For  the  subsequent  career  of  Stephen  Decatur,  Sr.,  see  Maday1 
History  of  the  Nary,  ToL  i,  pp.  165,  169,  886. 

Mifflin  had  a  severe  action  with  a  British  priva- 
teer of  eighteen  guns  and  eighty  men.  The  English- 
men finally  surrendered,  having  had  their  com- 
mander and  twenty-two  men  killed  or  injured.  Mc- 
NielPs  next  command  in  the  privateer  service  was 
the  10-gun  ship  Ulysses.  In  1782  we  find  him  in  com- 
mand of  the  6-gun  brig  Wasp,  with  a  complement  of 
twenty  men. 

Two  other  navy  officers  who  served  in  privateers 
must  be  specially  noticed,  Daniel  Waters  and  George 
Little.  Waters,  in  1778,  commanded  the  16-gun  ship 
Thorn,  in  which  vessel  he  gave  battle  to  the  British 
16-gun  brig  Governor  Tryon,  Captain  Stebbins,  a  Gov- 
ernment craft.  She  had  in  company  the  18-gun  brig 
Sir  William  ErsUne,  Captain  Hamilton,  another  king's 
ship.  Waters  had  received  his  commission  because 
of  his  extraordinary  attack  on  the  British  troopship 
Defense  in  1776,1  and  in  the  present  instance  he 
showed  himself  to  be  a  privateersman  of  true  mettle. 
He  closed  on  both  the  British  vessels  at  the  same 
time,  and  after  a  spirited  action  of  two  hours  com- 
pelled them  to  surrender,  Captain  Stebbins  being 
among  the  many  killed.  On  his  homeward  passage 
Waters,  after  an  action  of  fifty  minutes,  captured  the 
English  ship  Spartan,  mounting  eighteen  guns  and 
having  a  complement  of  ninety-seven  men.  Just  be- 
fore gaining  Boston  harbor  with  his  three  prizes, 
Waters  had  the  misfortune  to  lose  the  Governor 
Tryon,  that  vessel  escaping  under  cover  of  night. 
The  Sir  William  ErsJcine  and  Spartan,  however,  were 
brought  safely  into  port. 

George  Little,  who  commanded  the  Boston  in  her 
remarkable  action  with  the  French  corvette  Berceau, 
1800,2  was  in  charge  of  the  13-gun  privateer  sloop 
Winthrop  during  the  latter  part  of  the  war  for  inde- 
pendence. In  his  first  cruise  in  this  vessel  Little 

1  See  Macla/s  History  of  the  Navy,  vol.  i,  pp.  49,  50. 
•Ibid.,  Toll,  pp.  208-218. 


NAVY  OFFICERS  IN  PRIVATEERS.          1776-1782. 

captured  two  English  privateers,  and  soon  after  cut 
out  the  British  armed  brig  Meriam  that  was  lying  in 
the  Penobscot  with  a  prize  sloop.  The  Winthrop  made 
several  other  considerable  prizes  before  the  close  of 
the  war,  among  them  being  an  8-gun  schooner  which 
had  first  been  chased  ashore.  Captain  Little  had  as 
his  first  officer  in  the  Winthrop  Edward  Preble,  who 

afterward  took  part  in  our 
early  operations  in  the  Medi- 

Some  other  navy  officers 
who  commanded  privateers 
in  this  struggle  were  David 
Porter,  in  the  Aurora  and  the 
^ Delight-  Nicholas  Biddle,  in 
*  the  Camden  and  General  Moul- 
trie;  Dudley  Saltonstall,  in 
the  Minerva ;  Charles  Alex- 
ander, in  the  Active  and  Eliza- 
beth; Hoysted  Hacker,  in  the 
Buccaneer]  John  Rodgers,  in 
the  General  Smallwood;  John 
Burroughs  Hopkins,  in  the  Lee  and  the  Success; 
Samuel  Tucker,  in  the  Live  Oak  and  Thorn;  James 
Sever,  in  the  Pluto  and  the  Rambler;  and  Stephen 
Cassin,  in  the  Rising  Sun  and  the  Vengeance. 



FEW  privateersmen  of  the  Revolution  had  a  more 
distinguished  career  than  Silas  Talbot.  Born  of 
poor  parents  in  Dighton,  Massachusetts,  young  Tal- 
bot, at  the  age  of  twelve,  engaged  in  a  small  coasting 
vessel  as  a  cabin  boy,  and  rapidly  rose  in  his  profes- 
sion, until,  in  1772,  when  twenty- 
one  years  old,  he  had  accumulated 
enough  money  to  build  for  him- 
self a  house  in  Providence,  Rhode 
Island.  On  June  28,  1775,  he 
was  commissioned  a  captain  in 
a  Rhode  Island  regiment  com- 
manded by  Colonel  Hitchcock, 
and  took  part  in  the  operations 
before  Boston  which  led  to  the 
evacuation  of  that  place  by  the 
British,  March  17,  1776.  While 
on  his  way  to  New  York  with  the 
American  army,  Talbot  stopped 
at  New  London,  at  which  port  Captain  Esek  Hop- 
kins had  just  arrived  after  his  successful  expedition 
to  the  Bahamas.  Hopkins  applied  to  Washington 
for  two  hundred  volunteers  to  assist  his  squadron 
in  reaching  Providence,  and  Talbot  was  one  of  the 
first  to  offer'  himself.  He  proceeded  in  the  squadron 
to  the  desired  haven,  and  then,  with  his  men,  rejoined 
the  army  before  New  York. 

At  that  time  several  fire  ships  were  in  course  of 


Esek  Hopkins. 


construction,  which  it  was  hoped  would  destroy 
some  of  the  vessels  of  the  British  fleet  then  at  an- 
chor near  New  York.  When  these  vessels  were 
nearly  ready,  Captain  Talbot  and  Ensign  Thomas,  of 
the  same  regiment — the  latter  also  having  been  a 
seaman — applied  for  and  were  placed  in  command 
of  two  of  these  fire  craft.  When  Washington  re- 
treated to  Harlem  Heights,  the  British  fleet  moved 
up  Hudson  River,  the  American  fire  ships  keeping 
just  ahead  of  them  and  anchoring  above  Fort  Wash- 
ington. Here  they  remained  three  days,  when  Tal- 
bot received  a  letter  from  Major  Anderson  direct- 
ing him  to  take  the  first  opportunity  to  destroy 
the  British  vessels  with  his  fire  ships.  About  this 
time  three  of  the  enemy's  vessels  anchored  seven 
miles  above  the  city,  with  the  view  of  turning  the 
right  wing  of  the  American  army. 

The  following  night  proving  fair,  Captain  Talbot, 
about  two  o'clock  in  the  morning,  weighed  anchor, 
and,  standing  toward  one  of  the  ships,  spread  fresh 
priming  on  all  the  trains  leading  to  the  fire  barrels 
and  sprinkled  quantities  of  turpentine  over  the  com- 
bustible material  that  had  been  placed  aboard.  It 
was  intended  to  set  fire  to  the  mass  from  the  cabin, 
but  in  order  that  the  flames  might  spread  more 
readily  Talbot  prevailed  upon  one  of  his  men,  named 
Priestly— an  expert  swimmer — to  lie  down  on  the 
forecastle  with  a  lighted  match  so  as  to  fire  the 
trains  the  instant  they  fouled  the  enemy's  ship. 
Selecting  the  largest  of  the  three  ships,  the  64-gun 
ship  of  the  line  Asia,  Talbot  availed  himself  of  the 
darkest  hour,  just  before  daylight,  and  moved  di- 
rectly upon  her.  The  British  were  found  to  be  on 
the  alert,  and  when  the  approaching  fire  ship  was 
still  some  distance  off  a  boy  aboard  the  Asia  discov- 
ered her  and  gave  the  alarm.  The  enemy  promptly 
opened  a  rapid  fire,  and,  although  several  shots 
passed  through  the  fire  ship,  no  serious  damage  was 
done.  In  a  few  minutes  the  vessels  fouled,  matches 

1778.  ATTEMPT  ON  THE  ASIA.  93 

were  applied  to  the  fore  and  aft  trains  at  the  same 
instant,  and  so  rapid  was  the  progress  of  the  flames 
that  they  burst  forth  from  all  sides,  while  Talbot 
himself  was  compelled  to  grope  around  in  the  fire 
and  received  severe  burns  before  he  found  the  sally 
port  through  which  he  and  his  men  were  to  escape. 
The  brave  Priestly,  who  had  undertaken  the  peril- 
ous task  of  giving  direct  fire  to 
the  trains,  was  compelled  to 
jump  overboard,  but  was  rescued 
by  the  boat. 

The  greatest  confusion  pre- 
vailed aboard  the  Asia.  Guns 
were  fired  while  boats  from  the 
other  British  war  craft  put  off  to 
her  assistance  and  to  intercept 
the  daring  adventurers.  The 
brilliant  flames  from  the  fire 
ship  soon  illuminated  the  river 
for  miles,  rendering  the  little 
boat  containing  the  Americans 
a  fair  target.  All  the  English  ships  opened  on  her 
with  round  and  grape  shot,  but  owing  to  the  excite- 
ment of  the  moment  only  two  small  shot  passed 
through  the  frail  craft.  After  great  efforts  the  Brit- 
ish succeeded  in  extinguishing  the  flames,  but  the 
enterprise  had  made  such  an  impression  upon  their 
commanders  that  they  immediately  slipped  their 
cables,  and,  falling  down  the  river,  anchored  below 
New  York.  Captain  Talbot  and  his  men  reached 
the  Jersey  shore  in  safety,  but  he  was  so  burned  and 
blistered  by  the  fire  as  to  be  blinded,  and  his  men  led 
him  through  the  woods  to  English  Neighborhood. 
"Accommodations  were  solicited  for  him  there  at 
several  houses,  but  to  no  purpose,  the  people  alleg- 
ing generally  that  his  appearance  was  so  horrible 
he  would  frighten  their  children.  At  last  a  poor 
widow  who  lived  in  a  small  log  hut  that  had  but 
one  room  in  it  took  him  in,  where  he  was  laid  on  the 

94.  CAPTAIN  SILAS  TALBOT.  1777-1778. 

floor  and  covered  with  a  blanket,  and  his  poor  hostess 
procured  for  him  every  consolation  in  her  power. 
Bnt  in  the  conrse  of  the  day  General  Knox  and  Dr. 
Enstis,  passing  that  way  and  hearing  of  his  distress- 
ing situation — for  he  was  at  that  time  deprived  of 
his  sight — they  called  in  to  see  him,  and  the  doctor 
gave  directions  for  his  more  proper  treatment. 
When  the  captain  was  a  little  recovered  he  left  this 
poor  but  hospitable  abode  and  went  to  Hackensack, 
where  he  remained  till  he  was  able  to  join  his  regi- 
ment." *  For  this  gallant  affair  Congress  promoted 
Talbot  to  the  rank  of  major.  Ensign  Thomas 
brought  his  fire  ship  alongside  a  British  tender  of 
fourteen  guns  in  Tappan  Bay  and  destroyed  her,  but 
the  gallant  officer  himself  perished  in  the  flames  of 
his  vessel. 

In  the  British  attack  on  Fort  Mifflin  in  Novem- 
ber, 1777,  where  Talbot  was  stationed,  he  received 
a  musket  ball  through  his  left  wrist.  Notwithstand- 
ing the  excruciating  pain,  he  continued  at  his  post 
with  a  handkerchief  tied  round  the  injured  part. 
Soon  afterward  a  ball  penetrated  his  hip,  and,  being 
totally  disabled,  Talbot  was  placed  in  a  boat  and 
transferred  to  Eed  Bank,  and  thence  to  the  hospital 
at  Princeton.  Receiving  permission  from  General 
Washington  to  return  to  his  home  in  Rhode  Island 
until  his  wounds  were  healed,  Talbot  proceeded  to 

In  the  campaign  of  1778  a  French  fleet,  under 
Count  d'Estaing,  appeared  on  the  American  coast, 
and  an  expedition  was  planned  to  drive  the  British 
out  of  Rhode  Island.  In  this  effort  the  Americans 
were  commanded  by  General  Sullivan,  while  the 
English  garrison  was  under  the  orders  of  Sir  Robert 
Pigot.  The  first  step  to  be  taken  by  the  Americans 
was  to  construct  a  large  number  of  flat-bottom  boats, 
in  which  the  army  could  be  transferred  from  the 

*  Caritat's  Life  of  Silas  Talbot. 


mainland  to  Bhode  Island.  Major  Talbot  was  or- 
dered to  superintend  this  work,  and  in  a  short  time 
had  eighty-six  boats  in  readiness,  sixteen  of  which 
were  built  in  one  day,  and  calked  by  candlelight 
in  an  open  field  the  following  night.  "  Major  Tal- 
bot, by  the  middle  of  the  night,  put  everything 
in  train  for  having  all  ready  by  the  next  morning; 
and  then,  being  worn  out  with  fatigue  and  want 
of  rest  for  several  days,  laid  down  under  one  of  the 
boats,  that  the  dew  might  not  fall  upon  him,  and 
slept  soundly,  notwithstanding  the  calkers  worked 
over  his  head  part  of  the  time  to  finish  the  boat." * 
The  embarkation  of  the  American  army  began  Au- 
gust 9th,  and  on  gaining  the  island  began  its  march 
southward  toward  the  British  garrison  at  Newport. 
Being  ordered  to  ride  ahead  so  as  to  reconnoiter, 
our  gallant  major  came  in  sight  of  the  enemy's  fort, 
when  he  discovered  three  British  artillerymen  in  a 
garden  foraging.  He  leaped  his  horse  over  the  wall 
and  threatened  the  men  with  instant  death  if  they 
attempted  to  move.  The  soldiers,  mistaking  Talbot 
for  a  British  officer,  began  apologizing  for  their  ab- 
sence from  the  fort,  and  begged  that  they  might  not 
be  punished,  diplomatically  offering  to  share  their 
forage  with  him.  Taking  their  side  arms,  Talbot 
marched  them  up  the  road  before  him  into  the 
American  lines. 

Owing  to  the  failure  of  the  French  fleet  to  co- 
operate with  the  Americans,  the  attack  on  Newport 
was  not  made,  and  on  August  28th  our  army  began 
its  retreat  to  the  mainland.  When  the  French  ships 
first  appeared  off  Newport,  July  25th,  the  English 
burned  several  of  their  men-of-war  and  sank  the 
frigate  Flora,  at  that  time  heaved  down  on  the  beach 
for  cleaning.  This  step  opened  to  the  Americans  the 
water  passages  on  each  side  of  Khode  Island,  which 
were  of  inestimable  advantage.  With  a  view  of 

1  Oaritat's  Life  of  Silas  Talbot. 








\ln  Rhode  Island  Waters 

again  closing  these  channels,  the  British,  after  the 
departure  of  the  French  vessels  for  Boston,  con- 
verted a  stout  brig  of  some  two  hundred  tons  into  a 
galley.  Her  upper  deck  was  removed,  and  on  the 

lower  deck  eight 
12 -pounders  from 
the  Flora,  were 
mounted,  besides 
ten  swivels,  .and 
being  provided 
with  strong  board- 
ing nettings,  and 
manned  by  forty- 
five  men,  she  be- 
came a  formidable 
auxiliary  to  the 
British  land  forces. 
This  craft,  named 
in  honor  of  the 
British  command- 
ing general,  Sir 
Bobert  Pigot,  was 
placed  in  charge 
of  Lieutenant  Dun- 
lop,  of  the  British 
navy,  and  on  tak- 
ing a  station  in  the 
eastern  passage 
succeeded  in  com- 
pletely interrupting  the  important  commerce  carried 
on  through  that. channel. 

Determined  to  capture  or  destroy  this  mischie- 
vous vessel,  Talbot  early  in  October  obtained  Gen- 
eral Sullivan's  permission  to  fit  out  a  craft  and  call 
for  volunteers.  The  small  coasting  schooner  Hawk,  of 
seventy  tons,  was  secured,  and  in  two  days  was  pre- 
pared for  the  enterprise  with  two  3-pounders  and 
sixty  men  under  Talbot,  Lieutenant  Baker  being  sec- 
ond in  command.  These  daring  men  promptly  made 

I  Point 


1778.  FITTING  OUT  THE  HAWK  97 

sail,  and  had  proceeded  about  eight  miles  below 
Providence  when  the  wind  failed,  so  that  they  were 
obliged  to  remain  at  anchor  all  that  night  and  the 
following  day.  In  order  to  reach  the  Pigot,  Talbot 
was  compelled  to  run  past  two  British  earthworks, 
one  of  which  was  erected  on  the  south  side  of  the 
passage  at  Bristol  Ferry,  while  the  other  was  on  the 
west  side  of  Pogland  Ferry.  The  channel  opposite 
these  batteries  is  about  three  quarters  of  a  mile 

On  the  following  night  Talbot,  favored  with  a 
good  breeze,  got  under  way,  and  by  keeping  as  near 
as  possible  to  the  opposite  shore  passed  the  fort  at 
Bristol  Ferry.  He  was  discovered  and  fired  upon, 
but  fortunately  all  the  enemy's  missiles  fell  wide  of 
the  Hawk,  and  she  ran  about  six  miles  up  Taunton 
Eiver,  anchoring  on  the  west  side  of  Mount  Hope 
Bay,  some  fifteen  miles  from  the  Pigot,  the  direction 
of  the  wind  at  that  time  rendering  it  impracticable 
to  approach  Fogland  Ferry.  As  the  breeze  failed  to 
serve  on  the  following  morning,  Talbot,  leaving 
Baker  in  charge  of  the  Hawk,  proceeded  in  his  boat 
to  the  east  side  of  Sakonnet  Eiver.  He  landed  alone, 
and  securing  a  horse  rode  down  the  shore  to  a  point 
opposite  the  galley,  where  with  a  good  glass  he  re- 
connoitered  her  at  his  leisure.  This  intrepid  officer 
soon  discovered  that  she  was  a  far  more  formidable 
craft  than  he  had  been  led  to  believe,  her  boarding 
nettings  being  very  high,  and  were  carried  entirely 
around,  making  it  exceeding  difficult  to  take  her  by 
boarding — the  main  reliance  of  the  Americans  in  the 
proposed  attack.  Yet,  in  spite  of  the  unexpected 
difficulties  involved  in  the  attempt,  Talbot  deter- 
mined to  move  against  the  Pigot  that  evening.  Ee- 
turning  to  the  Hawk,  he  asked  for  and  received  from 
Brigadier-General  Cornell  a  reinforcement  of  fif- 
teen men  under  Lieutenant  Helm,  of  Ehode  Island. 
When  the  men  had  got  aboard,  Major  Talbot  called 
all  hands,  and  for  the  first  time  fully  explained  his 


plans  for  taking  the  Pigot,  concluding  his  remarks 
with  an  exhortation,  urging  the  men  to  keep  cool, 
and  making  a  considerable  personal  reward  for  the 
man  who  first  gained  the  galley's  deck.  The  men 
responded  to  the  harangue  with  cheers,  and  prompt- 
ly at  nine  o'clock  the  Hawk  got  under  way  and  pro- 
ceeded down  the  river. 

In  making  his  preparations  for  the  attack,  Talbot 
showed  true  Yankee  ingenuity  by  lashing  a  kedge 
anchor  fast  to  the  end  of  his  jib  boom,  so  that  when 
the  Hawk  ran  against  the  Pigot  the  kedge  would  tear 
a  wide  chasm  in  the  nettings.  A  grapnel  also  was 
held  in  readiness  to  throw  aboard  the  enemy  so  as 
to  hold  the  vessels  together.  As  the  Americans 
approached  the  fort  at  Fogland  Ferry,  Talbot  low- 
ered his  sails  so  that  the  Hawk  would  drift  past 
under  bare  poles,  thereby  reducing  the  chances  of 
discovery.  On  the  successful  passage  of  this  fort  un- 
discovered largely  depended  the  ultimate  success  of 
the  enterprise;  for  the  Pigot  lay  only  four  miles  be- 
low, near  Black  Point,  and  would  have  been  warned 
of  the  approaching  danger  by  the  sound  of  guns. 
So  onward  in  the  darkness  glided  the  silent  Hawk, 
with  every  sound  hushed  and  every  light  carefully 
.screened,  and  though  she  drew  so  near  the  earth- 
works as  to  enable  her  people  to  clearly  distinguish 
the  sentinels  every  time  they  passed  the  light  at  the 
window  of  the  barrack  she  continued  on  her  way 
down  stream  undetected. 

Having  safely  passed  the  fort,  Talbot  again  set 
his  sails,  and  stood  swiftly  down  the  river  with  all 
hands  at  quarters.  Owing  to  a  possible  overanxiety 
Talbot  did  not  gain  a  view  of  the  Pigot  as  soon  as 
he  had  expected,  and,  fearing  that  he  had  passed  her 
in  the  darkness,  he  came  to  anchor,  and,  getting  into 
his  boat,  pulled  with  muffled  oars  down  the  stream 
and  went  in  search  of  his  enemy.  He  had  not  pro- 
ceeded far  when  the  galley  suddenly  loomed  up 
directly  ahead.  To  make  absolutely  sure  of  success 

1778.  THE  AMERICANS  BOARD.  99 

this  discreet  officer,  instead  of  exhibiting  undue 
haste  by  pulling  immediately  back  to  his  craft, 
moved  closer  to  the  Pigot,  and  having  satisfied  him- 
self as  to  how  she  rode  with  the  tide  and  wind,  re- 
turned to  the  Hawk.  Getting  his  schooner  under  way 
again,  Talbot  bore  directly  down  on  the  galley.  Soon 
her  dark  outlines  were  distinguished  in  the  sur- 
rounding gloom,  and  almost  at  the  same  instant  a 
challenge  was  heard  across  the  water.  The  hail  was 
repeated  several  times,  and  as  no  answer  was  made 
a  small  volley  of  musketry  was  delivered  at  the 
Americans,  which  occasioned  little  or  no  injury,  as 
the  crew  had  been  ordered  to  lie  down  behind  the  bul- 

Before  the  British  could  discharge  a  single  can- 
non the  Hawk  had  fouled  them,  the  kedge  tearing  a 
great  hole  in  the  boarding  nettings,  while  the  grap- 
nel, being  promptly  swung  aboard,  held  the  two  craft 
together.  The  Americans  then  rose,  and,  giving  a 
volley  of  small  arms,  followed  Lieutenant  Helm's 
lead  in  boarding  the  galley.  In  a  short  time  every 
Englishman  was  driven  below  excepting  their  gal- 
lant commander,  Lieutenant  Dunlop,  who  appeared 
on  deck  in  his  underclothing,  and  began  prepara- 
tions for  a  desperate  resistance.  He  was  soon  over- 
powered, however,  and  when  informed  that  his  craft 
had  been  taken  by  a  small  sloop  carrying  only  two 
3-pounders,  manned  exclusively  by  soldiers— though 
many  of  them  had  been  seamen — burst  into  tears, 
saying  that  he  "  fancied  himself  to  stand  as  fair  for 
promotion  as  any  lieutenant  in  the  navy,  but  that 
now  all  those  agreeable  hopes  were  swept  away." 
Major  Talbot,  in  a  magnanimous  spirit,  endeav- 
ored to  console  the  crestfallen  officer.  Having  as- 
certained that  not  a  man  on  either  side  had  been 
killed,  Talbot  sent  his  prisoners  below,  where  they 
were  secured  by  coiling  the  cables  over  the  grat- 
ings, and,  getting  both  vessels  under  way,  ran  into 
Stonington  that  evening,  where  the  prisoners  were 

100  CAPTAIN"  SILAS  TALBOT.  1778. 

landed  and  marched  to  Providence  on  the  follow- 
ing day. 

"The  good  effects  resulting  from  this  well- 
planned  and  bravely  executed  enterprise,"  said  a 
contemporary  writer,  "were  numerous  and  exten- 
sive. The  spirit  of  the  people,  which  by  the  failure 
of  the  late  attempt  on  the  English  garrison  at  New- 
port had  been  greatly  depressed,  was  raised,  and 
the  intercourse  by  sea,  which,  to  the  immense  preju- 
dice of  this  part  of  the  country,  had  long  been  shut 
up,  was  now  opened."  For  this  handsome  exploit 
Congress  promoted  Talbot  to  the  rank  of  lieutenant 
colonel,  while  the  General  Assembly  of  Rhode  Island 
presented  both  Talbot  and  Helm  with  a  sword. 

Stimulated  by  his  successes  against  the  Asia  and 
Pigot,  Talbot  soon  formed  a  plan  for  destroying  the 
50-gun  ship  Renown,  which  the  enemy,  late  in  1778, 
stationed  off  Rhode  Island.    An  old,  high-sided  mer- 
chant ship,  of  about  four  hundred  tons,  was  carried 
down  the  river  a  few  miles  below  Providence,  and  a 
stage  was  built  on  her  deck,  as  if  for  carrying  cattle. 
"  This  stage  was  calculated  to  be  about  seven  feet 
higher  above  the  surface  of  the  water  than  the  up- 
per tier  of  guns  in  the  Renown,  and  was  spread  out 
over  the  sides  in  order  to  facilitate  boarding  when 
the  two  vessels  lay  close  together,  and  its  height 
would  not  only  enable  the  men  to  command  the 
decks  of  the  enemy,  but  place  them  above  the 
fire  of  their  guns.    To  drive  the  enemy  from  their 
upper  decks,  the  colonel  provided  a  great  number  of 
stout  earthen  pots,  each  of  which  held  three  pounds 
of  dry  gunpowder  and  three  hand  grenades  ready 
charged.    These  fire  pots  were  securely  closed,  and, 
then,*to  preserve  them  from  any  accidental  wet,  cov- 
ered with  sheep  or  lamb  skin,  with  the  wool  on  the 
outside.   Over  all  were  laid  two  pieces  of  slow  match 
that  were  so  long  that  when  lashed  on  with  a  cord 
made  a  handle  to  hold  it  by,  while  the  ends  of  the 
match  hung  below  the  pot  as  much  as  twelve  inches. 


By  repeated  experiments  the  colonel  found  that  any 
man  of  common  strength  could  throw  these  pots 
to  a  distance  of  forty  feet  with  considerable  cer- 
tainty. Their  fall  on  the  deck  would  infallibly  break 
them  and  scatter  the  contents,  when  the  fire  of  the 
slow  match  would  communicate  with  the  loose  pow- 
der, and  in  an  instant  with  the  grenades.  It  was  the 
colonel's  design,  in  real  action,  to  station  one  hun- 
dred men  in  a  convenient  part  of  his  ship  with  one 
of  these  fire  pots  in  each  hand.  He  conceived  that 
the  explosion  on  the  enemy's  decks  of  two  hundred 
pots,  containing  together  six  hundred  pounds  of  dry 
powder,  and  the  successive  bursting  of  six  hundred 
hand  grenades,  would  in  the  night,  when  assisted 
by  musketry  fire  from  two  hundred  men  and  the 
shouts  and  huzzas  of  all,  produce  a  terrible  scene 
of  destruction  and  alarm  at  the  first  outset,  drive 
the  enemy  from  their  quarters,  so  that  the  board- 
ing party  might,  without  great  difficulty,  succeed 
in  getting  possession  of  the  quarter-deck  of  the  man- 
of-war."  1  Talbot  also  counted  on,  as  a  considerable 
item  in  the  success  of  this  enterprise,  the  reported 
lack  of  discipline  aboard  the  Renown,  he  having 
learned  from  some  prisoners  who  had  been  detained 
aboard  this  craft  that  her  officers  were  especially 
negligent  at  night.  On  the  evening  selected  for  the 
attempt,  the  American  vessel  dropped  six  miles  far- 
ther down  the  river,  while  a  body  of  nearly  four  hun- 
dred men  marched  along  the  shore,  abreast  of  her, 
ready  to  embark  and  take  part  in  the  attempt  when 
all  was  ready.  Unfortunately  for  the  projectors 
of  this  daring  scheme,  the  weather  that  night  sud- 
denly came  on  very  cold,  the  ice  forming  so  rapidly 
in  the  river  as  to  prevent  the  land  force  from  getting 
aboard,  and  when  morning  dawned  it  was  found  that 
the  river  was  frozen  over,  holding  both  the  Renown 
and  the  merchantman  immovable  all  that  winter. 

*  Coritat's  Life  of  Silas  Talbot. 

102  CAPTADT  SILAS  TALBOT.  1778-1779. 

To  guard  against  any  attack  on  the  Renown  over  the 
ice,  the  British  placed  a  large  detachment  of  soldiers 
aboard  her.    When  navigation  opened  in  the  spring 
the  Renown  was  ordered  from  this  station,  her  place 
being  taken  by  a  44-gun  ship,  which  anchored  under 
the  guns  of  the  fort  in  Newport  harbor.    The  fact 
of  this  vessel  being  anchored  in  a  safer  place  in- 
duced Talbot  to  make  an  attempt  upon  her,  as  he 
reasoned  that  her  people  would  be  less  vigilant  than 
when  stationed  farther  up  the  river.     This  enter- 
prising officer  again  prepared  the  old  merchantman, 
and  with  three  hundred  and  fifty  volunteers  moved 
down  Providence  Eiver.     Unfortunately  the  pilot 
ran  the  ship  hard-and-fast  aground,  and  as  she  could 
not  be  floated  again  until  the  enemy  would  have  been 
warned  of  the  danger  Talbot  was  obliged  to  return. 
Observing  the  great  success  of  privateers  fitted 
out  by  the  rebelling  colonists,  a  number  of  Tories  in 
New  York  transformed  some  of  their  merchantmen 
in  that  port  into  private  cruisers  and  sent  them  out 
to  prey  on  the  coastwise  trade,  with  the  result  that 
in  a  short  time  American  commerce  in  the  vicinity 
of  New  York  was  almost  annihilated.   This  was  espe- 
cially the  case  in  Long  Island  Sound  and  in  the 
waters  of  Ehode  Island.    The  effect  of  this  Tory  pri- 
vateering, aided  by  the  regular  cruisers  of  the  Royal 
Navy,  was  so  injurious  to  the  American  cause  that 
General  Gates,  commanding  the  Continental  army 
in  the  northern  department,  reported  to  Washing- 
ton that  it  was  almost  impossible  to  secure  provi- 
sions.   At  Washington's  suggestion  Gates  prepared 
the  captured  Pigot  as  a  coast  guard,  while  the  little 
sloop  Argo,  of  one  hundred  tons,  was  fitted  with 
twelve  6-pounders,  and  being  placed  under  the  com- 
mand of  Colonel  Talbot,  with  sixty  volunteers  from 
the  army — most  of  whom  had  been  seamen — sailed 
from  Providence,  in  May,  1779,  to  cruise  after  the 
mischievous  Tories.    The  Argo  "was  steered  with 
a  long  tiller,  but  had  no  wheel;  had  a  high  bulkhead* 


Her  bulwarks  also  were  very  high.  She  had  a  wide 
stern,  and  her  appearance  altogether  was  like  a 
clumsy  Albany  sloop." l  Proceeding  round  the  east 
end  of  Long  Island,  Talbot  fell  in  with  the  privateer 
Lively,  Captain  Stout,  of  New  York,  mounting  twelve 
6-pounders.  This  craft  was  made  out  early  in  the 
morning,  the  Argo  promptly  giving  chase.  After 
a  hard  run  of  five  hours,  in  which  the  Tory  made 
every  effort  to  avoid  a  fight,  Talbot  succeeded  in  get- 
ting up  with  her  and  compelled  her  to  strike.  She 
was  sent  into  port.  Three  or  four  days  after  this 
the  Argo  sighted  two  English  privateers,  which 
proved  to  be  from  the  West  Indies,  heavily  laden 
and  bound  for  New  York.  Both  of  them  surrendered 
after  the  Americans  were  fairly  alongside,  and  prize 
crews  being  thrown  aboard  they  were  carried  into 

Not  only  were  the  Tories  in  New  York  active  in 
fitting  out  privateers,  but  those  in  Newport  also 
sent  out  the  stout  brig  King  George,  Captain  Hazard, 
mounting  fourteen  6-pounders  and  manned  by  eighty 
men.  As  this  craft  hailed  from  his  native  State,  and 
had  taken  many  American  vessels,  Talbot  naturally 
was  anxious  to  meet  her,  though  he  knew  that  she 
was  more  formidable  than  the  sloop  he  commanded. 
"  Captain  Hazard  was  a  native  of  Ehode  Island,  and 
had  been  universally  esteemed  till  he  took  command 
of  this  privateer  for  the  base  purpose  of  plundering 
his  neighbors  and  old  friends.  Whenever  the  Argo 
went  out  from  Providence,  Stonington,  New  London, 
or  any  other  port  in  that  quarter,  where  she  occa- 
sionally ran  in  for  the  night,  it  was  the  common 
wish  of  the  inhabitants  that  she  might  take  or  sink 
Captain  Hazard."  2 

Captain  Talbot  soon  had  the  satisfaction  of  grati- 
fying this  patriotic  desire  of  the  New  Englanders; 
for  on  his  second  cruise,  when  about  one  hundred 

1  Garitat's  Life  of  Silas  Talbot.  *  Ibid. 




and  twenty  miles  south  of  Long  Island,  the  day 
being  exceptional,  beautiful  and  calm,  a  vessel  was 
sighted  about  noon,  which  was  discovered  to  be  the 
King  George.  The  vessels  gradually  approached  each 
other,  and  when  within  a  short  distance  Talbot 
hailed,  and  to  his  great  pleasure  found  his  hail  an- 
swered  by  Captain  Hazard  in  person.  The  Argo  was 
promptly  run  alongside,  and,  delivering  their  broad- 
side, the  Americans  boarded,  and  soon  drove  their 


enemies  below,  not  a  man  on  either  side  being  killed. 
Placing  a  prize  crew  aboard  the  King  Q-eorge,  Talbot 
ordered  her  into  New  London,  where  she  arrived 
amid  the  cheers  of  the  population — "even  the 
women,  both  old  and  young,  expressed  the  greatest 
joy."  Soon  after  this  most  gratifying  success  the 
Argo  seized  an  American  privateer  which  was  in  the 
hands  of  a  British  crew  and  sent  her  into  New  Bed- 

1779.  ACTION  WITH  THE  DRAGON.  105 

ford.  In  the  same  cruise  Talbot  captured  the  Brit- 
ish merchant  brig  Elliott,  from  London  for  New 
York,  mounting  six  guns,  and  sent  her  into  New 
London.  She  had  a  valuable  cargo  of  dry  goods  and 

This  "  army  privateer  "  had  now  taken  five  ves- 
sels without  serious  fighting.  Talbot  had  developed 
his  crew  to  the  highest  state  of  efficiency,  and  they 
were  anxious  to  test  their  mettle  against  that  of  a 
worthy  foe.  Early  one  morning  in  August,  when  the 
sloop  was  at  sea,  a  sail  was  discovered,  which  soon 
gave  promise  of  a  struggle.  She  was  quickly  made 
out  to  be  a  large  ship,  armed  and  full  of  men.  As 
the  stranger  showed  no  disposition  to  avoid  the  Argo, 
the  two  craft  were  soon  within  gunshot  of  each 
other,  the  Americans  at  their  cannon  ready  for  ac- 
tion. After  exchanging  hails,  and  finding  that  they 
were  enemies,  both  vessels  opened  an  animated  fire 
from  their  guns.  The  battle  was  fought  within  pis- 
tol shot,  and  lasted  four  hours  and  a  half.  At  one 
time  the  speaking  trumpet  which  Colonel  Talbot 
held  to  his  mouth  was  pierced  by  shot  in  two  places, 
and  about  the  same  time  a  cannon  ball  took  off  the 
skirt  of  his  coat.  Evidently  the  Argo  was  getting 
a  real  taste  of  a  sea  fight,  for  after  the  action  had 
lasted  several  hours  nearly  all  the  men  stationed  on 
her  quarter-deck  were  killed  or  wounded.  Talbot 
pluckily  continued  the  fight,  notwithstanding  his 
severe  losses,  and  finally  had  the  satisfaction  of  ob- 
serving his  opponent's  mainmast  fall.  Upon  this 
the  Englishmen  surrendered  and  announced  their 
ship  to  be  the  privateer  Dragon,  of  three  hundred 
tons,  mounting  fourteen  6-pounders  and  manned  by 
eighty  men. 

Just  as  the  enemy's  colors  came  down  Talbot  was 
informed  by  one  of  his  officers  who  had  been  sta- 
tioned in  the  magazine  below  that  the  Argo  was 
sinking,  the  water  in  her  hold  having  reached  the 
gun  deck.  At  this  alarming  report  Talbot  promptly 

108  CAPTAIN  SILAS  TALBOT.  1779. 

ordered  the  sides  of  his  sloop  to  be  inspected,  be- 
lieving the  cause  of  the  inrushing  waters  to  be 
shot  holes.  His  surmise  proved  to  be  correct,  and 
in  a  short  time  men  were  swung  over  the  sides,  who 
plugged  the  holes,  after  which  all  hands  manned  the 
pumps  and  succeeded  in  clearing  the  sloop  of  water. 
The  Dragon  was  then  manned  and  sent  into  New 

Scarcely  had  the  American  repaired  damages 
when  another  sail  was  reported.  This  was  the  Eng- 
lish privateer  brig  Hannah,  of  two  hundred  tons, 
armed  with  twelve  12-pounders  and  two  6-pounders. 
Although  a  vessel  twice  the  size  and  force  of  the 
Argo,  Colonel  Talbot  did  not  hesitate  to  attack  her. 
Soon  after  the  action  began  the  American  priva- 
teer Macaroni,  Captain  D.  Keybold,  of  Pennsylvania, 
a  brig  of  six  guns  and  twenty  men,  drew  near,  upon 
which  the  Hannah  surrendered.  She  was  sent  into 
New  Bedford  in  company  with  the  Dragon.  "  When 
the  Argo  returned  to  port  with  these  last  prizes  she 
was  so  much  shivered  in  her  hull  and  rigging  by  the 
shot  which  had  pierced  her  in  the  last  two  engage- 
ments that  all  who  beheld  her  were  astonished  that  a 
vessel  of  her  diminutive  size  could  suffer  so  much  and 
yet  get  safely  to  port.  The  country  people  came 
down  from  a  considerable  distance,  only  to  see  Cap- 
tain Talbot  and  his  prizes  and  to  count  the  shot 
marks  about  the  Argro."1  On  September  17,  1779, 
Congress  gave  Talbot  a  commission  as  captain  in 
the  navy,  and  further  declared  that  his  pay  as  lieu- 
tenant colonel  should  continue  until  he  could  be  em- 
ployed by  the  marine  committee. 

After  refitting,  the  Argo  put  to  sea,  and,  skirting 
the  southern  coast  of  Long  Island,  appeared  off 
Sandy  Hook,  where  she  fell  in  with  the  privateer 
Saratoga,  Captain  Munroe,  of  Providence.  While 
these  two  vessels  were  cruising  in  company  off  this 

1  A  contemporary  account. 


port,  on  a  clear  moonlight  night,  the  English  priva- 
teer Dublin,  Captain  Fagan,  fitted  out  by  the  Tories 
in  New  York,  was  discovered  coming  out.  After  a 
short  consultation  between  the  American  command- 
ers, it  was  agreed  that,  in  order  to  induce  the  Dublin 
to  give  battle,  the  little  Argo  should  boldly  approach 
Sandy  Hook  and  challenge  the  Tories  to  action,  the 
Dublin  carrying  two  more  guns  than  the  Ehode 
Island  sloop.  In  accordance  with  this  programme, 
Talbot  stood  close  in,  and,  after  exchanging  hails 
with  Captain  Fagan,  engaged  him  in  a  spirited  fight. 
For  two  hours  the  crews  fought  with  great  deter- 
mination, the  Americans  wondering  greatly  at  the 
failure  of  their  consort,  the  Saratoga,  to  come  up  to 
their  assistance  as  agreed  upon.  This  circumstance 
is  explained  as  follows: 

"  The  Saratoga  was  steered  with  a  long  wooden 
tiller  on  common  occasions,  but  in  time  of  action 
the  wooden  tiller  was  unshipped  and  put  out  of  the 
way,  and  she  was  then  steered  with  an  iron  one 
that  was  shipped  into  the  rudder  head  from  the 
cabin.  In  the  hurry  of  preparing  for  battle,  this 
iron  tiller  had  been  shoved  into  the  opening  of  the 
rudder  case,  but  had  not  entered  its  mortise  in  the 
rudder  head  at  all,  and  the  Saratoga  went  away 
with  the  wind  at  a  smart  rate,  to  the  surprise  of 
Captain  Talbot  and  the  still  greater  surprise  of  Cap- 
tain Munroe,  who  repeatedly  called  to  the  helms- 

" '  Hard  a-weather,  hard  up  there! 9 

" '  It  is  hard  up,  sir/ 

" '  You  lie,  you  blackguard!  She  goes  away  lask- 
ing.  Hard  a-weather,  I  say  again/ 

" '  It  is  hard  a-weather,  indeed,  sir/  was  the  only 
reply  the  helmsman  could  make. 

"  Captain  Munroe  was  astonished,  and  could  not 
conceive  'what  the  devil  was  the  matter  with  his 
vessel.'  He  took  in  the  after-sails  and  made  all 
the  headsail  in  his  power.  *  All '  would  not  do,  and 

108  CAPTAIN  SILAS  TALBOT.  1779. 

away  she  went.  He  was  in  the  utmost  vexation  lest 
Captain  Talbot  should  think  him  actually  running 
away.  At  last  one  of  his  under  officers  suggested 
that  possibly  the  iron  tiller  had  not  entered  the  rud- 
der head,  which  on  examination  was  found  to  be 
the  case.  The  blunder  was  soon  corrected,  and  the 
Saratoga  was  made  to  stand  toward  the  enemy;  and 
that  some  satisfaction  might  be  made  for  his  long 
absence  Captain  Munroe  determined,  as  soon  as  he 
got  up,  to  give  them  a  whole  broadside  at  once.  He 
did  so,  and  the  Dublin  immediately  struck  her 
colors."  *  The  privateers  carried  their  prize  into  Egg 
Harbor.  The  day  following  the  capture  of  the  Dul- 
Kn  the  Argo  seized  the  British  merchant  brig  Chance, 
from  London  for  New  York,  laden  with  a  valuable 
cargo  of  stores  for  the  English  army.  She  was  of 
about  two  hundred  tons,  and  was  carried  into  Egg 

A  few  days  after  this  successful  cruise  the  boy 
at  the  Argo's  masthead  reported  a  ship  on  the  hori- 
zon. This  was  about  ten  o'clock  in  the  morning,  and, 
it  being  a  clear  day;  the  stranger  was  a  great  dis- 
tance off  when  first  noticed.  Talbot  made  all  sail  in 
chase  of  the  ship,  when,  discovering  the  sloop,  the 
stranger  made  every  effort  to  get  away.  All  that 
day  the  pursuit  was  maintained,  and  by  nightfall 
the  Americans  had  gained  only  slightly.  A  clear 
night  enabled  the  Argo  to  keep  the  stranger  in  sight, 
and  early  on  the  following  morning  she  had  her 
within  long  gunshot.  Talbot  now  believed  that  she 
was  a  large  transport  bound  for  the  West  Indies, 
and,  as  he  could  not  discover  any  guns  or  gun  ports, 
he  was  extremely  anxious  to  get  up  to  her.  The 
stranger  was  running  dead  before  the  wind,  which 
was  her  best  point  of  sailing,  but  about  ten  o'clock 
the  wind  died  away.  Being  within  gunshot  the 
Americans  made  every  preparation  for  battle,  the 

1  Garitat's  Life  of  Silas  Talbot 

1779.  A  NABROW  ESCAPE.  109 

stranger  all  the  time  keeping  her  stern  toward  h'er 
pursuer,  so  that  it  was  impossible  to  ascertain  her 

Just  as  the  Argo  was  getting  ready  to  open  fire, 
the  people  in  the  chase  were  observed  getting  out 
their  sweeps,  and  in  a  few  minutes  they  had  brought 
their  broadside  to  bear,  and  to  the  astonishment  of 
the  Americans  the  stranger  ran  out  thirty  guns  and 
delivered  a  terrific  broadside.  The  little  Argo  had 
been  chasing  a  ship  of  the  line,  and  was  now  be- 
calmed under  her  guns!  Captain  Talbot  promptly 
set  all  hands  at  his  sweeps.  Fortunately  the  Eng- 
lishmen fired  with  more  haste  than  accuracy,  though 
several  of  their  shots  hulled  the  sloop,  killing  one 
of  the  crew  and  wounding  another  in  his  right  arm. 
By  great  exertions  the  Americans  gradually  worked 
their  sloop  to  a  position  on  the  Englishman's  quarter, 
and  in  the  course  of  several  hours  managed  to  get 
beyond  the  reach  of  his  guns,  when  the  Americans, 
utterly  exhausted,  threw  themselves  on  the  deck  and 
rested.  Soon  afterward  a  breeze  sprang  up  and  the 
Argo  effected  her  escape.  The  stranger  proved  to  be 
the  Reasonable,  which  had  been  sent  from  New  York 
with  all  possible  speed  to  join  the  British  fleet  in 
the  West  Indies.  Had  it  not  been  for  this  circum- 
stance, the  Raisonalle  might  have  captured  the  Argo. 
One  of  the  English  shots,  a  32-pounder,  penetrated 
the  Argo's  bulwark,  smashed  a  boat,  and  spent  itself 
on  the  deck. 

Early  in  September,  shortly  after  his  adventure 
with  the  ship  of  the  line,  Captain  Talbot  discovered 
a  sail  standing  toward  him  which  was  believed  to 
be  a  British  privateer.  Soon  the  sail  was  made  out 
to  be  a  brig  of  considerable  force,  apparently  using 
her  utmost  endeavor  to  overhaul  the  little  sloop. 
Talbot  allowed  her  to  approach  within  pistol  shot, 
when  he  exchanged  hails.  The  brig  then  showed 
English  colors,  upon  which  Talbot  displayed  the 
Stars  and  Stripes,  calling  out: 


"  You  must  now  haul  down  those  British  colors, 
my  friend." 

The  commander  of  the  brig,  a  Scotchman,  coolly 
replied  with  a  dignity  and  elaborateness  worthy  of 
a  Chesterfield: 

"  Notwithstanding  I  find  you  an  enemy,  as  I  sus- 
pected, yet,  sir,  I  believe  I  shall  let  them  hang  a 
little  bit  longer— with  your  permission — so  fire  away, 

This  was  the  signal  for  both  vessels  to  open,  and 
for  nearly  an  hour  a  spirited  cannonade  was  main- 
tained, when  the  Scotchman,  having  all  of  his  offi- 
cers and  many  of  his  men  killed  or  wounded,  sur- 
rendered. The  brig  was  the  Betsey,  a  privateer 
pierced  for  sixteen  guns,  but  mounting  only  twelve 
6-pounders,  with  a  crew  of  thirty-eight  men.  .She 
was  bound  for  New  York,  and  had  on  board  two  hun- 
dred and  fourteen  puncheons  of  rum.  Shortly  after 
this  Talbot  captured  a  sloop  from  New  Providence 
for  New  York,  with  a  cargo  of  stores  for  the  British 

When  Captain  Talbot  returned  to  Providence 
after  this  cruise  he  found  orders  awaiting  him  there 
from  Congress  to  surrender  the  Argo  to  her  owner, 
Nicholas  Low,  of  New  York.  The  sloop,  when  first 
fitted  up  as  an  "  army  privateer,"  belonged  to  Mr. 
Low,  who,  being  in  New  York  at  the  time,  could  not 
be  reached  by  the  American  authorities,  and  the 
sloop  was  seized  without  his  permission.  This  little 
vessel  had  taken,  while  under  Talbot's  command, 
twelve  prizes,  and  had  rendered  inestimable  service 
to  the  American  cause,  not  only  in  ridding  the  south- 
ern part  of  the  New  England  coast  of  Tory  priva- 
teers and  in  taking  valuable  prizes,  with  three  hun- 
dred prisoners,  but  in  opening  navigation  so  that 
the  army  under  General  Gates  could  receive  much- 
needed  supplies. 

After  his  relinquishment  of  the  command  of  the 
Argo  every  effort  was  made  by  the  authorities  to 


secure  another  vessel  for  this  successful  privateers- 
man.  In  the  summer  of  1780  the  private  cruiser 
General  Washington,  of  Providence,  mounting  twenty 
6-pounders  and  manned  by  one  hundred  and  twenty 
men,  was  fitted  out  and  placed  under  Talbot's  orders. 
In  his  first  cruise  in  this  formidable  vessel  Talbot 
captured  a  valuable  merchantman  from  Charleston 
for  London,  which  was  sent  into  Boston.  Afterward 
he  took  a  British  ship  from  the  West  Indies  for  Ire- 
land, but  this  prize  was  recaptured  before  reaching 
port.  Eunning  up  to  Sandy  Hook  after  this  cap- 
ture, Talbot  inadvertently  ran  into  the  British  fleet 
under  Admiral  Arbuthnot.  He  made  sail  to  escape, 
hotly  pursued.  The  wind  soon  came  on  to  a  strong 
gale,  and  one  of  the  Englishmen,  a  74-gun  ship  of  the 
line,  carried  away  her  foreyard  and  dropped  astern. 
The  ship  of  the  line  Culloden,  however,  continued  the 
chase,  and  finally  captured  the  privateer.  Captain 
Talbot  was  taken  aboard  the  Robuste,  Captain  Cosby 
— afterward  admiral — and  was  treated  with  cour- 
tesy. From  this  vessel  Talbot  was  transferred  to 
a  tender  and  taken  to  New  York,  and  was  confined  in 
the  Jersey,  where  he  received  the  usual  ill  treatment. 
Toward  the  close  of  the  year  1780,  Talbot,  with  a 
number  of  other  American  officers  £nd  seamen,  was 
placed  in  the  ship  of  the  line  Yarmouth,  Captain  Lut- 
widge — afterward  admiral — and  taken  to  England. 
The  barbarous  treatment  of  the  prisoners  aboard  the 
Yarmouth  is  narrated  in  the  chapter  "  An  Escape 
from  Old  Mill  Prison."  After  being  incarcerated  in 
Plymouth  Prison  some  months,  Talbot,  in  October, 
1781,  was  released  and  made  his  way  to  Prance. 
Early  in  February,  1782,  he  sailed  from  Nantes  for 
Ehode  Island  in  a  brig  commanded  by  Captain  Fol- 
ger.  When  fifteen  days  out  the  vessel  was  captured 
by  the  British  privateer  Jupiter,  Captain  Craig,  who 
treated  his  prisoners  with  kindness.  Falling  in  with 
a  British  brig  from  Lisbon  for  New  York,  Captain 
Craig  placed  Talbot  aboard  her,  remarking  that  Tal- 

112  CAPTAIN  SILAS  TALBOT.  1799. 

bot  had  been  a  prisoner  so  long,  and  had  suffered  so 
much,  that  he  ought  to  have  the  earliest  opportunity 
to  reach  home.  Arriving  at  New  York,  Talbot  took 
passage  in  a  lumber  boat  to  Stony  Brook,  Long 
Island,  from  which  place  he  walked  some  fifteen 
miles  to  a  tavern  kept  by  one  Munroe,  at  Hunting- 
ton.  Eemaining  here  a  week,  he  crossed  the  Sound 
at  night  in  a  boat  and  landed  at  Fairfield,  Connecti- 
cut, from  which  place  he  made  his  way  overland 
to  Providence.  After  the  war  Talbot  was  regu- 
larly attached  to  the  navy,  and  commanded  the 
famous  frigate  Constitution  in  1799,  when  she  had 
her  merry  race  with  a  British  war  ship  of  the  same 
class.1  One  of  the  torpedo  boats  of  our  new  navy  has 
been  named  after  Silas  Talbot. 

1  See  Maclay's  History  of  the  Navy,  vol.  i,  pp.  178,  174. 



THAT  our  privateers  were  a  powerful  agency  in 
bringing  about  the  successful  termination  of  the  war 
for  independence  is  seen  in  the  marvelous  develop- 
ment of  that  form  of  maritime  warfare.  While  our 
Government  war  vessels  steadily  diminished  in  num- 
ber and  force,  from  thirty-one  vessels,  with  five  hun- 
dred and  eighty-six  guns,  in  1776,  to  seven  ships, with 
one  hundred  and  ninety-eight  guns,  in  1782,  our  priva- 
teers increased  at  the  following  remarkable  rate: 
One  hundred  and  thirty-six  vessels,  with  thirteen  hun- 
dred and  sixty  guns,  for  the  years  1775  and  1776; 
seventy-three  vessels,  with  seven  hundred  and  thirty 
guns,  in  1777;  one  hundred  and  fifteen  vessels,  with 
eleven  hundred  and  fifty  guns,  in  1778;  one  hundred 
and  sixty-seven  vessels,  with  two  thousand  five  hun- 
dred and  five  guns,  in  1779;  two  hundred  and  twenty- 
eight  vessels,  with  three  thousand  four  hundred  and 
twenty  guns,  in  1780;  four  hundred  and  forty-nine 
vessels,  with  six  thousand  seven  hundred  and  thirty- 
five  guns,  in  1781;  and  three  hundred  and  twenty- 
three  vessels,  with  four  thousand  eight  hundred  and 
forty-five  guns,  in  1782. 

Another  interesting  feature  of  this  extraordinary 
development  of  privateering  was  the  rapid  increase 
in  the  size  and  efficiency  of  the  craft  thus  engaged. 
In  the  earlier  part  of  the  war  any  vessel,  old  or 
new,  that  could  possibly  be  converted  into  a  war 
craft  was  eagerly  seized,  a  few  guns  mounted  on  her, 


114  EAPID  GROWTH  OF  PBIVATEERINGK      1778-1779. 

and  she  was  sent  to  sea  with,  in  some  cases,  the  most 
curious  assemblage  of  men  imaginable.  Physicians, 
lawyers,  army  officers,  politicians,  staid  merchants, 
and  even  ministers  of  the  Gospel,  were  found  in  their 
complements;  all  seemingly  carried  away  by  the 
"  craze  for  privateering." 

As  the  war  progressed,  and  as  the  profits  from 
prizes  enriched  the  owners  of  these  craft,  new, 
swifter,  and  better  vessels  were  built  expressly  for 
this  service,  so  that  when,  on  the  outbreak  of  hostili- 
ties, ten  guns  was  considered  a  large  armament  for  a 
privateer,  and  thirty  to  sixty  men  were  deemed  suffi- 
cient to  man  each,  toward  the  latter  part  of  the  war 
vessels  mounting  twenty,  and  even  twenty-six  guns, 
and  having  complements  of  one  hundred  and  fifty  to 
two  hundred  men,  were  the  rule  rather  than  the  ex- 
ception. As  the  Government  cruisers  one  by  one  fell 
into  the  hands  of  the  enemy,  or  were  lost  by  ship- 
wreck, or  were  blockaded  in  our  ports,  their  number 
rapidly  diminished,  and  Congress  frequently  called 
upon  our  privateers  to  perform  missions  of  national 

One  of  the  first  privateers  to  get  to  sea  in  1778 
was  the  16-gun  brig  Hazard,  Captain  John  Foster 
Williams,  of  Massachusetts.  She  captured  a  brig 
and  a  schooner.  On  the  16th  of  March,  1779,  the 
Hazard,  while  cruising  off  St.  Thomas,  fell  in  with 
the  English  brig  Active,  Captain  Sims,  carrying  eight- 
een guns,  with  sixteen  swivels,  and  a  complement 
of  one  hundred  men.  An  action  quickly  followed,  and 
after  thirty-seven  minutes  of  spirited  fighting  the 
enemy  surrendered,  having  thirteen  men  killed  and 
twenty  wounded;  the  loss  of  the  Americans  being 
three  killed  and  five  wounded. 

Soon  after  this  the  Hazard  had  a  battle  with  an 
English  bomb  ship  of  fourteen  guns  and  eighty  men, 
the  Hazard's  original  complement  of  ninety  men  hav- 
ing by  this  time  been  reduced  to  about  fifty  men. 
Realizing  their  advantage  in  numbers,  the  British 

1778-1770.  THE  BENNINGTON  AND  BUNKER  HILL.  115 

made  several  attempts  to  board,  when,  after  being 
repelled  each  time  with  heavy  loss,  they  sheered  off. 
In  the  summer  of  1779  the  Hazard  joined  the  Penob- 
scot  expedition,  and  in  August  was  burned  to  prevent 
her  falling  into  the  hands  of  the  enemy. 

Some  time  in  1778  the  privateers  Benningfon  and 
Bunker  Hill  got  to  sea  and  made  fairly  successful 
cruises.  The  former,  commanded  by  Captain  W.  New- 
ton, and  afterward  by  Captain  R.  Craig,  was  a  sloop 
mounting  six  guns  and  four  swivels,  and  was  manned 
by  fifteen  men.  She  was  commissioned  from  Mary- 
land and  captured  a  valuable  ship.  In  the  following 
year  she  took  a  British  privateer  of  twelve  guns.  The 
Bunker  Hilly  a  schooner  of  ten  guns,  with  a  comple- 
ment of  forty-five  men,  under  Captain  S.  Thompson, 
from  Connecticut,  in  1778  made  one  prize. 

The  privateer  brigs  Columbus  and  Favorite  also 
made  cruises  in  1778,  in  which  they  captured  one  ves- 
sel each.  The  Columbus,  carrying  twelve  guns  and 
thirty  men,  under  Captain  T.  Moore,  took  the  sloop 
St.  Peter,  while  the  Favorite,  Captain  Lamb,  captured 
a  ship  armed  with  sixteen  guns,  having  a  cargo  of 

The  6-gun  sloop  Eagle,  Captain  E.  Conkling,  had  a 
more  exciting  experience.  She  went  to  sea  with  only 
thirty  men,  and  in  one  cruise  made  six  prizes.  In 
manning  these  vessels  Captain  Conkling  reduced  his 
own  crew  to  fifteen  men,  who,  besides  having  the 
work  of  handling  the  sails,  were  compelled  to  guard 
the  large  number  of  prisoners  taken  aboard.  It  was 
not  long  before  the  British  prisoners  realized  the 
critical  position  in  which  the  Americans  had  been 
placed,  and,  seizing  a  favorable  opportunity,  they  rose 
on  their  captors,  and  killing  all  except  two  boys  took 
possession  of  the  Eagle  and  endeavored  to  run  her 
into  a  British  port.  Before  reaching  a  place  of  safety, 
however,  the  Eagle  fell  in  with  the  American  priva- 
teer Hancock  and  was  retaken.  In  1779  the  Eagle, 
while  in  New  York,  was  blown  up. 


The  splendid  privateer  ships  General  Putnam  and 
Marllorough  got  to  sea  in  the  spring  of  1778.  The 
former,  carrying  twenty  guns  and  one  hundred  and 
fifty  men,  under  Captain  T.  Allen,  from  Connecticut, 
captured  a  brig  with  a  cargo  of  provisions.  The  Marl- 
borough,  Captain  Babcock,  from  Massachusetts,  was 
one  of  the  most  successful  privateers  in  this  war, 
having  made,  in  all,  twenty-eight  prizes;  one  of  them 
a  slaver  with  three  hundred  negroes  aboard. 

Perhaps  next  to  the  Marllorough  in  point  of  num- 
ber of  prizes  was  a  mere  boat  armed  with  only  two 
guns  and  manned  by  twenty  men.  In  spite  of  her 
unprepossessing  name  this  boat,  called  the  Skunk, 
commissioned  in  New  Jersey,  is  reported  to  have  sent 
in  no  less  than  nineteen  prizes,  many  of  them  of  con- 
siderable value. 

In  June,  1778,  the  armed  sloop  Volante,  Captain 
Daniel,  of  Connecticut,  captured  the  sloop  Ranger, 
carrying  eight  guns  and  thirty-five  men;  and  about 
the  same  time  the  18-gun  ship  Minerva,  Captain  J. 
Earle — afterward  commanded  by  Captain  J.  Angus — 
from  Pennsylvania,  made  a  prize  of  a  schooner.  The 
Minerva  had  a  complement  of  sixty  men. 

The  6-gun  brig  Monmouth,  of  Massachusetts,  Cap- 
tain D.  Ingersol,  captured  one  vessel  in  1778,  but 
afterward  the  prize  was  shipwreck  near  Ports- 
mouth, her  crew  of  eleven  men  perishing.  In  the  fol- 
lowing year  the  Monmouih  made  a  cruise  in  which 
she  took  two  brigs,  a  schooner,  and  a  sloop.  The  last 
was  in  charge  of  a  midshipman  in  the  Royal  Navy, 
who  had  four  men  with  him. 

For  American  privateersmen  September  seems  to 
have  been  the  luckiest  month  in  the  year  1778.  On 
September  6th  the  10-gun  brig  Gerard,  Captain  J. 
Josiah,  of  Pennsylvania,  while  cruising  in  company 
with  the  American  privateer  Convention,  met  a  sail 
which  immediately  aroused  suspicions.  Chase  was 
promptly  given,  and  in  spite  of  the  utmost  endeavors 
of  the  people  in  the  chase  the  American  privateers 


soon  had  her  under  their  guns.  On  investigation  the 
stranger  proved  to  be  an  American  privateer,  the 
sloop  Active,  which,  having  made  several  prizes,  had 
taken  aboard  a  number  of  prisoners.  These  prison- 
ers, as  in  the  case  of  the  sloop  Eagle,  just  noticed,  had 
risen  on  their  captors  and  made  themselves  masters 
of  the  sloop.  To  make  sure  that  there  would  be  no 
repetition  of  this  experience,  Captain  Josiah  escorted 
the  Active  into  Philadelphia. 

On  September  17th  the  18-gun  brig  Vengeance, 
Captain  Newman,  of  Massachusetts,  having  a  com- 
plement of  one  hundred  men,  fell  in  with  the  British 
packet  ship  Harriet,  mounting  sixteen  guns  and 
manned  by  forty-five  men.  Although  the  Harriet  was 
a  packet  ship,  selected  for  that  service  especially  be- 
cause of  her  great  speed,  she  was  unable  to  keep  her 
lead  on  the  American  privateer,  which,  after  a  hard 
chase  of  several  hours,  overhauled  her  and  forced  a 
battle.  Newman  reserved  his  fire  until  within  musket 
shot,  when  he  delivered  his  broadside,  the  English- 
men responding  with  spirit.  In  fifteen  minutes,  how- 
ever, the  superiority  of  American  gunnery  asserted 
itself  and  the  enemy  surrendered,  having  a  number 
killed  or  wounded.  On  the  part  of  the  Americans 
one  man  was  killed. 

Four  days  after  this  Captain  Newman  had  the 
good  fortune  to  fall  in  with  another  packet  ship,  the 
Eagle,  of  fourteen  guns,  having  a  crew  of  sixty  men. 
Again  were  the  superior  sailing  qualities  of  the 
American  privateer  emphatically  shown,  for  after 
a  long  chase  the  Vengeance  overtook,  the  swift  Eagle 
and  brought  her  into  action.  As  in  his  engagement 
with  the  Harriet,  Captain  Newman  reserved  his  shot 
until  within  the  closest  range,  when  he  delivered  his 
fire  with  great  effect.  The  Englishmen  fought  with 
their  usual  bravery,  but  in  twenty  minutes  were  com- 
pelled to  haul  down  their  colors,  having  several  of 
their  number  killed  or  wounded— among  the  former 
a  colonel.  Aboard  the  prize  were  four  lieutenant 

118  RAPID  GROWTH  OF  PRIVATEERING.      1779-1778. 

colonels  and  three  majors  who  had  taken  passage  in 
the  Eagle  so  as  to  join  their  regiments  in  America. 
On  August  14,  1779,  while  under  the  command  of 
Captain  Thomas,  the  Vengeance  was  destroyed  in  the 
Penobscot  expedition.  Another  armed  vessel, 
mounting  sixteen  guns,  called  Vengeance,  while  under 
the  command  of  Captain  Deane,  in  October,  1779, 
had  a  well-contested  action  with  the  British  brig 
Defiance,  carrying  fourteen  guns  and  seventy-two 
men.  The  Englishmen  finally  were  overcome,  hav- 
ing fifteen  of  their  number  killed  or  wounded,  while 
the  American  loss  was  eight. 

It  was  on  September  19,  1778,  that  one  of  the 
most  dramatic  actions  in  which  an  American  priva- 
teer was  concerned  took  place.  Eeaders  of  American 
naval  history  are  familiar  with  the  tragic  fate  of  the 
United  States  32-gun  frigate  Randolph,  which  on 
March  7, 1778,  gave  battle  to  the  British  74-gun  ship 
of  the  line  Yarmouth  in  order  to  save  a  convoy  of  mer- 
chantmen which  was  under  the  Randolph's  protec- 
tion. An  unlucky  shot  from  the  Yarmouth  ignited 
the  Randolph's  magazine  and  blew  her  to  pieces,  only 
four  of  her  complement  of  three  hundred  and  fifteen 
men  being  saved.  Only  a  few  months  after  this,  or 
on  September  19th,  this  sea  tragedy  was  repeated, 
with  the  difference  that  this  time  it  was  the  British, 
not  the  American,  that  was  blown  up. 

On  the  day  mentioned  the  privateer  General  Han- 
cock, Captain  Hardy,  of  Massachusetts,  carrying 
twenty  guns  and  a  crew  of  one  hundred  and  fifty 
men,  fell  in  with  the  British  32-gun  ship  Levant,  Cap- 
tain J.  Martin,  manned  by  over  one  hundred  men. 
After  an  action  of  about  three  hours  a  shot  from  the 
General  Hancock  reached  the  Levant's  magazine  and 
blew  her  up,  all  on  board  perishing  excepting  the 
boatswain  and  seventeen  men.  It  is  a  singular  coin- 
cidence that  both  the  ill-starred  Randolph  and  Levant 
carried  the  same  number  of  guns. 

Soon  after  this  Captain  Hardy  came  across  a  fleet 


of  twenty-one  sail  under  the  protection  of  several  war 
vessels.  By  adroit  maneuvering  Hardy  managed  to 
cut  out  the  8-gun  ship  Lady  ErsJcine.  In  this  affair  the 
General  Hancock  was  assisted  by  the  American  priva- 
teer Beaver. 

The  little  privateer  sloop  Providence,  Captain  J. 
Conner,  of  Pennsylvania,  made  several  successful  ven- 
tures in  1778  and  in  1779,  capturing  the  ship  Nancy, 
the  brigs  Chase  and  Bella,  and  the  schooner  Friend- 
ship. Captain  Conner  placed  a  prize  crew  aboard  the 
Nancy,  with  orders  to  make  for  the  most  available 
American  port.  When  the  privateer  had  disappeared 
below  the  horizon,  the  British  prisoners  in  the  Nancy, 
seizing  a  favorable  opportunity,  suddenly  fell  upon 
their  captors,  overpowered  them,  and  regained  pos- 
session of  their  ship.  Before  they  had  proceeded  far 
on  their  new  course,  however,  the  Nancy  again  fell  in 
with  the  Providence  and  was  recaptured. 

It  was  some  time  in  1778  that  the  American  12- 
gun  privateer  True  American,  Captain  Buffington,  of 
Massachusetts,  had  a  severe  engagement  with  a  West 
India  letter  of  marque.  Unfortunately  the  details  of 
this  affair  have  not  been  preserved. 

Perhaps  one  of  the  most  formidable  privateers  that 
put  to  sea  in  the  year  1778  was  the  Black  Prince,  of 
Massachusetts,  Captain  West.  This  vessel  was  built 
expressly  for  privateering,  being  among  the  first  of 
this  class  of  formidable  war  craft  to  get  to  sea.  She 
is  said  to  have  been  an  exceptionally  handsome  speci- 
men of  naval  architecture.  Carrying  eighteen  guns, 
with  a  complement  of  one  hundred  and  sixty  men, 
this  fine  ship  put  to  sea  in  October,  1778,  and  cap- 
tured a  snow  and  two  brigs.  In  the  following  year 
she  was  attached  to  the  Penobscot  expedition  and 
was  destroyed. 



IN  following  the  career  of  Andrew  Sherburne,  a 
boy  privateersman  in  the  Bevolution,  the  reader  will 
become  familiar  with  a  phase  of  privateering  of  which 
too  little  is  known.  Sherbnrne  began  his  sea  life  at 
the  age  of  fourteen  by  entering  the  United  States 
cruiser  Ranger  soon  after  her  return  from  her  cele- 
brated cruise  in  the  Irish  Sea  under  Captain  John 
Paul  Jones.  The  Ranger  sailed  from  Boston  in  June, 
1779,  under  the  command  of  Captain  Simpson,  one  of 
her  lieutenants  in  her  fight  with  the  Drake.  After  a 
successful  career  in  the  West  Indies  the  Ranger  re- 
turned to  Boston  in  August  refitted,  and,  getting  to 
sea  again,  made  a  short  cruise,  and  then  put  into 
Charleston,  where  she  was  captured  by  the  Brit- 
ish, together  with  several  Continental  cruisers. 

As  the  Ranger  had  been  built  at  Portsmouth,  New 
Hampshire,  the  patriotic  citizens  of  that  place,  on 
learning  of  her  loss,  built  another  ship,  which  they 
called  the  Alexander,  to  be  used  as  a  privateersman, 
the  command  of  her  also  being  given  to  Captain 
Simpson.  Young  Sherburne,  with  most  of  the  officers 
and  men  of  the  Ranger,  enlisted  in  her.  The  Alexander 
got  to  sea  in  December,  1780,  and  returned  to  port 
after  a  profitless  cruise  of  several  weeks.  Sherburne 
had  intended  to  sail  in  her  again,  but  he  happened  to 
meet  a  stranger  in  the  streets  of  Portsmouth  one  day 
who  persuaded  him  to  go  aboard  the  fishing  schooner 
Greyhound,  that  Captain  Jacob  Willis,  of  Kennebunk, 


was  fitting  out  as  a  privateersman.  Sailors  at  that 
time  were  very  scarce,  and  peculiar  methods  were  em- 
ployed to  fill  out  complements.  Sherburne  was  taken 
into  the  cabin  and  introduced  to  the  officers,  who 
made  themselves  extremely  agreeable  to  the  budding 
privateersman,  patting  him  on  the  head,  saying  that 
he  was  a  fine-looking  youngster,  etc.,  and  finally  ask- 
ing him  to  sing.  Even  this  elaborate  flattery  did  not 
secure  the  boy,  who  still  held  off,  but  promised  to  con- 
sider the  offer.  He  remained  aboard  the  Greyhound 
while  she  ran  down  to  Old  York,  a  small  port  nine 
miles  east  of  Portsmouth,  in  the  hope  of  enticing 
more  seamen  aboard.  The  officers  of  the  Greyhound 
went  ashore,  put  up  at  a  tavern,  and  gave  what  they 
called  "  a  jovial  evening,"  to  which  all  seafaring  men 
were  invited.  When  the  company  had  become  suffi- 
ciently "  jolly,"  the  officers  went  among  the  men  en- 
deavoring to  induce  them  to  enlist.  Several  were 
shipped  in  this  manner. 

Stopping  at  several  other  ports  for  the  same  pur- 
pose the  Greyhound  put  to  sea  and  appeared  off  Hali- 
fax. Here,  during  a  gale  of  wind,  she  was  chased  by 
a  large  schooner  and  overtaken,  but  the  stranger 
proved  to  be  an  American  privateer.  Eunning  close 
into  Halifax  harbor,  Captain  Willis  discovered  a  ship 
that  appeared  to  be  in  distress,  and  believing  that 
she  might  prove  a  rich  prize  he  ran  down,  and  did 
not  realize  that  she  was  a  British  cruiser  until  within 
gunshot.  The  Greyhound  turned  in  flight,  with  the 
"crippled  merchantman"  in  full  chase.  In  a  few 
minutes  it  was  seen  that  the  stranger  was  neither 
crippled  nor  a  dull  sailer,  for  she  rapidly  overhauled 
the  American  and  would  have  captured  her  had  not 
a  heavy  fog  rolled  over,  completely  enveloping  both 
vessels  and  enabling  the  Greyhound)  by  changing  her 
course,  to  escape. 

After  this  adventure  Captain  Willis  changed  his 
cruising  ground  to  the  mouth  of  the  St.  Lawrence.  A 
large  number  of  sails  were  seen,  but  they  all  proved  to 

122  A  BOY  PEIVATBBBSMAN.  1781. 

be  Americans  on  the  same  business  as  the  Greyhound. 
Touching  at  a  small  group  of  islands,  where  the  priva- 
teer took  aboard  several  dozen  bushels  of  wild  bird 
eggs,  Captain  Willis  fell  in  with  "an  independent 
English  fisherman  " — that  is,  one  who  was  not  in  the 
employ  of  the  British  company  that  had  a  monopoly 
of  fishing  in  those  waters — from  whom  he  learned 
that  an  English  brig  had  recently  entered  Fortune 
Bay  with  supplies  for  the  fishing  stations.  The  Grey- 
hound did  not  find  the  brig,  but  captured  several  fish- 
ing shallops,  two  of  which  were  manned  and  ordered 
to  the  United  States. 

Young  Sherburne  was  placed  in  one  of  these,  the 
Greyhound  .meantime  making  for  Salem.  While  en- 
deavoring to  cross  the  Gulf  of  St.  Lawrence  the  shal- 
lop in  which  Sherburne  had  been  placed  met  heavy 
weather,  and  in  a  few  days  sighted  a  strange  vessel. 
Sherburne  says:  "We  sometimes  thought  whether  it 
might  not  be  another  prize  that  the  privateer  had 
taken.  Shortly,  however,  most  of  us  were  rather  in- 
clined to  think  it  was  the  enemy.  She  continued  to 
gain  upon  us  and  we  discovered  that  her  crew  were 
rowing.  .  .  .  They  soon  began  to  fire  upon  us  with 
long  buccaneer  pieces,  into  which  they  put  eight  or 
ten  common  musket  balls  for  a  charge.  The  first  time 
they  fired  they  did  not  strike  us,  but  we  heard  their 
bullets  whistle  over  our  heads.  The  second  time  their 
charge  went  through  the  head  of  the  mainsail,  and 
the  third  time  it  went  through  the  middle  of  our  main- 
sail. We  now  heaved  to.  In  a  few  minutes  they  were 
alongside  of  us  and  twenty  men  sprang  aboard  with 
these  long  guns  in  their  hands,  loaded,  cocked,  and 
primed,  and  presented  two  or  three  at  each  of  our 
breasts  without  ceremony,  cursing  us  bitterly  and 
threatening  our  lives.  We  pleaded  for  quarter,  but 
they,  with  violence,  reprimanded  us,  and  seemed  de- 
termined to  take  our  lives,  after  they  had  sufficiently 
gratified  themselves  with  the  most  bitter  impreca- 
tions that  language  could  afford.  There  were  one  or 

1781.  IN  THE  ENEMY'S  HANDS.  123 

two  who  interceded  for  us.  One  of  these  was  their 
commander,  but  their  entreaties  seemed  to  increase 
the  rage  of  some  of  the  others.  We  stood  trembling 
and  awaiting  their  decisions,  not  presuming  to  re- 
monstrate, for  some  of  them  seemed  to  be  perfect 
furies.  At  length  their  captain  and  several  others, 
who  seemed  more  rational,  prevailed  on  those  heady 
fellows  to  forbear  their  rashness. 

"Their  first  business  was  to  get  the  prizes 
under  way  for  their  own  port,  which  was  called 
Grand  Bank.  By  this  time,  say  two  or  three  o'clock, 
there  was  quite  a  pleasant  breeze.  The  Newfound- 
landers (for  I  am  inclined,  for  the  present,  to  for- 
bear calling  them  English  or  the  Irish)  made  it  their 
business  to  go  into  particular  inquiries  as  to  what 
had  transpired  with  us  since  we  left  the  bay.  One 
of  us  had  a  copy  of  the  Greyhound's  commission  as  a 
privateer.  The  wind  being  fair,  we  arrived  at 
Grand  Bank  before  night,  and  almost  the  whole  vil- 
lage were  collected  to  see  the  Yankee  prisoners. 
We  were  taken  on  shore  and  soon  surrounded,  per- 
haps by  a  hundred  people.  Among  them  was  an 
old  English  lady  of  distinction  who  appeared  to 
have  an  excellent  education,  and  to  whose  opinion 
and  instructions  they  all  seemed  to  pay  an  especial 
deference.  She  was  the  only  person. among  them 
who  inquired  after  papers.  I  presented  the  com- 
missions. This  lady  took  them  and  commenced  read- 
ing them  audibly  and  without  interruption  until 
she  came  to  the  clause  in  the  privateer's  letter  of 
marque  and  reprisal  which  authorized  to  'burn, 
sink,  or  destroy/  etc.  Many  of  the  people  became 
so  exceedingly  exasperated  that  they  swore  that  we 
ought  to  be  killed  outright.  They  were  chiefly  west 
countrymen  and  Irishmen,  rough  and  quite  uncul- 
tivated, and  were  in  a  state  of  complete  anarchy. 
There  was  neither  magistrate  nor  minister  among 
them.  They  appeared  very  loyal,  however,  to  his 
majesty.  The  old  lady  interposed,  and  soon  called 

124  A  BOY  PEIVATEBESMAN.  1781. 

them  to  order.  She  informed  them  that  we  were 
prisoners  of  war  and  ought  to  be  treated  with  hu- 
manity and  conveyed  to  a  British  armed  station. 
She  then  went  on  with  her  reading,  and  closed  with- 
out further  interruption.  This  good  woman  gave 
directions,  and  they  began  to  prepare  some  refresh- 
ment for  us.  They  hung  on  a  pot  and  boiled  some 
corned  codfish  and  salted  pork.  When  it  was  boiled 
sufficiently,  they  took  the  pot  out  of  doors,  where 
there  was  a  square  piece  of  board  which  had  a  cleat 
on  each  edge,  the  corners  being  open.  They  then 
turned  the  pot  upside  down  upon  the  board,  and 
when  the  water  was  sufficiently  drained  away  the 
board  was  set  on  a  table,  or  rather  a  bench,  some- 
thing higher  ttian  a  common  table,  and  the  com- 
pany stood  around  this  table  without  plates  or 
forks.  They  had  fish  knives  to  cut  their  pork,  but 
generally  picked  up  the  fish  with  their  fingers,  and 
had  hard  baked  biscuit  for  bread.  Having  taken 
our  refreshment,  we  were  conducted  into  a  cooper 
shop  and  locked  up,  the  windows  secured,  and  a 
guard  placed  outside." 

On  the  following  morning  the  prisoners  were 
placed  aboard  a  shallop  and  locked  in  the  fish  room 
— a  dark,  noisome  place,  where  they  had  everything 
taken  from  them  except  the  clothes  they  wore. 
Even  their  shoes  were  appropriated.  In  this  filthy 
hole  they  were  conveyed  to  a  little  harbor  called 
Cornish,  where  they  found  the  owner  of  the  "  inde- 
pendent fishing  boat,"  who  treated  them  kindly,  of- 
fering them  a  loaf  of  bread  and  a  plate  of  butter. 
The  Americans  were  locked  up  overnight  in  this 
place  in  the  warehouse,  and  on  the  following  morn- 
ing they  were  taken  six  miles  up  the  river  and  landed 
so  as  to  strike  across  the  land  to  Cape  Placentia 
Bay.  In  this  march  of  twenty  miles  the  privateers- 
men  suffered  greatly,  as,  being  without  shoes,  their 
feet  soon  became  lacerated.  About  five  miles  from 
their  destination  they  met  an  old  Jerseyman  who 


owned  a  number  of  shallops,  several  of  which  had 
been  captured  by  American  privateers.  When  the 
old  man  discovered  who  the  prisoners  were,  he  be- 
came highly  exasperated,  and  insisted  that  they 
ought  to  be  put  to  death,  and,  had  it  not  been  for 
the  guard  of  seven  sturdy  men,  he  might  have  car- 
ried out  his  wishes  with  his  own  hands.  Refusing 
to  give  food  or  shelter  to  the  prisoners  overnight, 
the  irascible  Jerseyman  slammed  the  door  in  the 
faces  of  the  travelers  and  went  into  the  house. 
Thereupon  the  guard  took  possession  of  his  brew- 
house,  which,  although  wet  and  muddy,  made  a 
fairly  good  shelter  for  the  night. 

Arriving  at  a  small  port  called  Morteer,  where 
the  inhabitants  fired  a  gun  in  celebration  of  the  ad- 
vent of  "  Yankee  prisoners,"  our  adventurers  were 
placed  aboard  a  fishing  boat  and  taken  to  Placen- 
tia,  the  largest  fishing  station  in  that  part  of  New- 
foundland. It  was  now  May,  1781,  and  in  Septem- 
ber the  British  sloop  of  war  Duchess  of  Cumberland, 
Captain  Samuel  Marsh — formerly  the  American  pri- 
vateer Congress,  built  at  Beverly,  Massachusetts, 
which  had  recently  been  captured  and  taken  into 
the  English  service — came  into  port,  and,  taking  the 
Americans  aboard,  sailed  for  St.  John's,  Newfound- 
land, where  there  was  a  prison  ship  in  which  a  num- 
ber of  our  seamen  had  been  confined. 

On  the  night  of  September  19th,  while  the  Duchess 
of  Cumberland  was  on  her  passage  to  St.  John's,  she 
was  wrecked  on  a  desert  island,  and  twenty  of  her 
one  hundred  and  seventy  people  were  lost.  After 
enduring  great  hardships,  the  survivors  regained 
Placentia,  where  our  privateersmen  were  again 
placed  in  the  garrison  house.  About  the  end  of 
the  following  October  the  British  sloop  of  war  Fairy, 
Captain  Teo,  came  into  the  harbor,  and,  taking 
the  Americans  aboard,  carried  them  to  Plymouth, 
England,  where  they  were  confined  in  Old  Mill 

126  A  BOY  PBIYATEBBSKiN.  1781. 

Captain  Teo  was  the  father  of  Sir  James  Lucas 
Yeo,  who  became  notorious  in  our  naval  war  with 
Great  Britain  in  1812,  and  it  is  probable  that  James 
was  aboard  the  Fairy  in  1781,  as  Captain  Teo  is 
known  to  have  had  his  son  with  him.    It  was  Sir 
James  who  wrote,  in  September,  1812:  "Sir  James 
Yeo  presents  his  compliments  to  Captain  Porter,  of 
the  American  frigate  Esse$9  and  would  be  glad  to 
have  a  t8te4rt8te  anywhere  between  the  Capes  of 
Delaware  and  Havana,  where  he  would  have  the 
pleasure  to  break  his  sword  over  his  damned  head 
and  put  him  down  forward  in  irons."    We  now  get 
our  first  insight  into  the  character  of  the  Yeos. 
Young  Sherburne  describes  Captain  Yeo  as  a  "  com- 
plete tyrant."    He  writes:  "Willis  and  myself  were 
called  upon  the  quarter-deck,  and,  after  being  asked 
a  few  questions  by  Captain  Yeo,  he  turned  to  his 
officers  and  said:  'They  are  a  couple  of  fine  lads  for 
his  majesty's  service.    Mr.  Gray,  see  that  they  do 
their  duty,  one  in  the  f oretop  and  the  other  in  the 
maintop.'    I  said  that  I  was  a  .prisoner  of  war,  and 
that  I  could  not  consent  to  serve  against  my  coun- 
try.   With  very  hard  words  and  several  threats  we 
were  ordered  off  the  quarter-deck  and  commanded 
to  do  our  duty  in  the  waist.  .  .  .  While  lying  at  St. 
John's  we  had  an  opportunity  of  seeing  some  of  Cap- 
tain Yeo's  character  exhibited.    It  was  contrary  to 
orders  to  bring  any  spirituous  liquors  aboard.    It 
was  the  custom  to  hoist  in  the  boat  at  night,  lest 
any  of  the  men  should  elude  the  guard,  steal  the 
boat,  and  run  away.    One  evening,  as  the  boat  was 
hoisted  in,  there  was  a  bottle  of  rum  discovered  in 
the  boat.    No  one  of  the  boat's  crew  would  own  the 
bottle,  and  the  next  morning  the  whole  crew,  six  in 
number,  were  seized  up  to  the  gangway,  with  their 
shirts  stripped  off,  and  each  received  a  dozen  lashes. 
It  was  very  common  for  this  captain  to  have  his 
men  thus  whipped  for  very  trifling  faults,  and  some- 
times when  faultless.    At  a  certain  hour  the  cook 

1781.  CAPTAIN  YEO  THE  ELDER.  127 

gives  out  word  to  the  men  and  officers'  waiters  that 
they  may  have  hot  water  to  wash  their  dishes,  etc. 
One  day  a  midshipman's  boy  called  on  the  cook  for 
hot  water.  The  cook  had  none,  and  reprimanded 
the  lad  for  not  coming  in  proper  season.  The  boy 
complained  to  his  master,  whose  rank  on  board  was 
no  higher  than  the  cook's,  and  who  was  himself  but 
a  boy.  The  midshipman  came  forward  and  began 
to  reprimand  the  cook,  who  told  him,  that  had  the 
boy  come  at  the  proper  time  he  would  have  had  hot 
water  enough,  but  that  he  should  not  now  furnish 
him  or  any  one  else.  This  young  blood  made  his  com- 
plaint to  the  captain  that  he  was  insulted  by  the 
cook,  who  was  a  man  in  years,  and  who  for  this  af- 
front, offered  to  a  gentleman's  son,  must  be  brought 
to  the  gangway  and  take  his  dozen  lashes.  I  be- 
lieve that  the  laws  of  the  navy  do  not  admit  of  a 
warrant  officer  being  punished  without  he  is  first 
tried  and  condemned  by  a  court-martial.  I  under- 
stand that  the  captain  had  violated  the  laws  of  the 
navy  in  a  number  of  instances.  He  had  a  number 
of  men  in  irons  on  the  whole  passage  to  England." 
On  arrival  in  Plymouth,  Captain  Yeo  was  super- 
seded in  the  command  of  the  Fairy  by  a  new  cap- 
tain. Young  Sherburne  notes  the  change  of  com- 
manders as  follows:  "Captain  Yeo  took  leave  of 
his  ship  without  any  ceremony  of  respect  being 
shown  him  from  the  crew.  Shortly  after  the  new 
captain  came  on  board,  and  was  saluted  with  three 
cheers  from  the  crew." 

In  striking  contrast  to  the  brutal  temperament 
of  Captain  Yeo,  we  have  that  of  the  Fairy's  carpen- 
ter. Two  days  after  Yeo  had  compelled  the  two 
American  lads  to  serve  against  their  country,  all 
hands  were  called.  Sherburne  and  Willis  went  to 
the  cable  tier,  the  proper  place  for  prisoners  of  war, 
and  on  the  boatswain  approaching  them  and  de- 
manding why  they  refused  to  obey  the  call  for  all 
hands  the  boys  said  that  they  considered  them- 

128  A  BOY  PBIYATEERSMABT.  1781. 

selves  prisoners.    "Tell  me  nothing  about  prison- 
ers," he  said.   "  Upon  deck  immediately! "   "  We  still 
kept  our  stations  and  remonstrated,"  records  Sher- 
burne.    "  He  uttered  a  number  of  most  horrid  impre- 
cations, and  at  the  same  time  commenced  a  most 
furious  attack  upon  us  with  his  rattan.    We  for  a 
while  sternly  adhered  to  our  purpose,  while  he  al- 
ternately thrashed  the  one  and  the  other.    He  be- 
came more  and  more  enraged,  and  we,  not  daring  to 
resist,  thought  it  best  to  clear  out.    We  mounted 
the  deck,  with  him  at  our  heels  repeating  his  strokes. 
.  .  .  The  carpenter,  whose  name  was  Fox,  was  sit- 
ting in  his  berth  looking  on.    After  we  returned 
from  quarters  Fox  called  me  and  said:  <I  see,  my 
lad,  that  you  are  obliged  to  do  duty.    It  is  wrong, 
but  it  would  not  do  for  me  to  interfere;  yet  I  was 
thinking  in  your  favor.    His  majesty  allows  me  two 
boys.    If  you  will  come  into  my  berth  and  take  a 
little  care  here,  I  will  excuse  your  keeping  watch 
and  all  other  duty.    You  will  be  much  less  exposed 
if  you  stay  with  me  than  you  will  be  if  you  have  to 
do  your  duty  before  the  mast,  and  it  is  in  vain  for 
you  to  think  to  escape  that,  for  Captain  Yeo  is  a 
very  arbitrary  man;  he  is  not  liked  by  the  crew,  and 
his  officers  do  not  set  much  by  him.    I  intend  to 
leave  the  ship  myself  when  we  get  home.' "    Arriv- 
ing at  Plymouth,  Fox  gave  further  evidence  of  his 
kindness  by  offering  to  adopt  the  American  boys. 
He  said  that  he  did  not  intend  to  follow  the  sea; 
that  he  had  a  wife,  but  no  child.     On  the  boys  de- 
clining this  generous  offer,  the  carpenter  took  pains 
to  put  them  in  a  way  of  becoming  prisoners  of  war 
again.    "  In  a  day  or  two  after  he  [the  new  com- 
mander] had  come  on  board,  Mr.  Fox  came  into  his 
cabin  where  I  was  and  said  to  me:  'Sherburne,  the 
captain  is  walking  alone  on  the  quarter-deck.      I 
think  it  is  a  good  time  for  you  to  speak  to  him.    It 
may  be  that  he  will  consider  you  as  a  prisoner  of 
war/  "    The  two  boys  timidly  approached  the  new 

1782.  CAPTURE  OF  THE  SCORPION.  129 

commander  and  stated  their  position,  and  in  an  hour 
they  were  sent  aboard  the  prison  ship  Dunkirk. 

From  that  place  the  boys  were  taken  to  Old  Mill 
Prison,  where  they  were  confined  several  months, 
until  exchanged  and  sent  to  America  in  a  cartel. 
Young  Sherburne  had  been  in  his  native  land  only 
a  few  weeks  when  he  entered  a  privateer — the 
Scorpion,  Captain  E.  Salter — and  made  a  cruise  in 
the  West  Indies.  On  the  homeward  passage  the 
Scorpion  was  captured  by  the  British  frigate  Am- 
phion,  and  for  a  third  time  Sherburne  found  himself 
a  prisoner  of  war.  This  time  he  was  taken  to  New 
York  and  placed  in  the  infamous  ship  Jersey,  where 
he  experienced  the  usual  brutal  treatment  accorded 
to  Americans  confined  there.  After  an  imprison- 
ment of  several  weeks  he  was  released  in  an  ex- 
change of  prisoners,  and  made  his  way  home,  the 
war  by  that  time  having  ended. 


THE  WORK  OP  1779. 

THE  winter  of  1777->78,  during  which  the  Ameri- 
can army,  under  the  immediate  command  of  Wash- 
ington, had  its  headquarters  at  Valley  Forge,  has 
been  popularly  accepted  as  the  darkest  hour  in  our 
struggle  for  independence.  The  American  army  had 
been  driven  out  of  New  York,  the  most  important 
city  in  the  rebelling  colonies,  the  British  had  occu- 
pied Rhode  Island  and  had  undisputed  possession  of 
Philadelphia,  and  as  the  only  material  offset  to 
these  disasters  we  have  the  capture  of  Burgoyne's 
army  of  some  eight  thousand  men  in  Northern  New 
York.  In  the  light  of  these  reverses,  the  hope  for 
independence  was  indeed  forlorn.  Congress,  being 
largely  influenced  by  foreign  adventures,  was  im- 
potent, and  really  did  more  to  hamper  than  to  assist 
the  American  arms.  Bo  far  as  our  operations  on 
land  were  concerned,  therefore,  it  might  almost  be 
said  that  the  winter  of  1777-'78  was  the  "  darkest 
hour  of  the  Revolution." 

When  we  consider  the  work  of  our  maritime 
forces  down  to  this  period,  however,  we  find  that 
some  of  the  heaviest  blows  at  British  supremacy  in 
the  North  American  colonies  had  been  delivered — 
blows  that  were  felt  by  the  ministry  across  the  ocean 
more  keenly  than  any  reverses  English  arms  had  suf- 
fered on  land.  At  the  time  the  Continental  army 
was  encamped  at  Valley  Forge,  American  cruisers, 
and  especially  privateers,  were  scouring  the  seas, 


1777-1778.       BRITISH  COMMERCE  AITOOEILATED.  131 

capturing  great  numbers  of  the  enemy's  war  craft 
and  merchantmen,  harassing  English  trade  in  all 
parts  of  the  then  known  world,  hovering  on  the 
coast  of  the  British  Isles,  throwing  their  ports  into 
frequent  alarm,  and,  what  is  perhaps  most  impor- 
tant of  all,  maintaining  communications  between  the 
colonies  and  the  outside  world,  by  means  of  which 
news  of  the  victories  gained  by  the  Americans  was 
carried  to  the  French  court,  and  specie  and  muni- 
tions of  war  were  brought  into  the  country. 

So  disastrous  had  been  the  operations  of  our 
maritime  forces  on  the  high  seas  to  British  com- 
merce that  Parliament,  early  in  1778,  made  special 
inquiries.  On  February  6,  1778,  Alderman  Wood- 
bridge  testified  at  the  bar  of  the  House  of  Lords  that 
"  the  number  of  ships  lost  by  capture  or  destroyed 
by  American  privateers  since  the  commencement  of 
the  war  was  seven  hundred  and  thirty-three,  of 
which,  after  deducting  for  those  retaken  and  re- 
stored, there  remained  five  hundred  and  fifty-nine." 
William  Creighton,  Esq.,  "  not  only  corroborated  the 
alderman  in  the  most  material  points,  but  added 
many  new  facts  which  had  fallen  within  his  own 
knowledge.  He  stated  the  losses  suffered  by  mer- 
chantmen in  consequence  of  the  captures  made  by 
the  American  privateers  to  have  amounted  to  at 
least  two  million  pounds  sterling  in  October  last 
[1777],  and  that  by  this  time  they  could  not  be  less 
than  two  million  two  hundred  thousand  pounds." l 

Seven  hundred  and  thirty-three  ships  taken  from 
the  enemy  by  American  privateers  in  the  first  two 
full  years  of  the  war!  Truly  an  astonishing  record, 
and  one  that  might  well  justify  posterity  in  regard- 
ing the  winter  of  1777-'78  as  far  from  being  the 
"darkest  hour  of  the  Revolution!"  But  the  most 
astonishing  feature  of  these  achievements  is  that 
these  vessels  were  captured  by  a  comparatively 

1  Records  of  Parliament,  Tol.  xix,  pp,  707-711. 


THE  WOEK  OF  1779.  1777-1779. 

small  number  of  men  and  ships.  Down  to  the  close 
of  1777  there  had  been  commissioned  from  the  vari- 
ous  ports  of  the  colonies,  in  all,  one  hundred  and 
seventy-four  private  armed  craft,  mounting  one 
thousand  eight  hundred  and  thirty-eight  guns  and 
manned  by  nine  thousand  two  hundred  and  thirty- 
six  men  and  boys.  Some  of  these  privateers  did  not 
succeed  in  getting  to  sea,  while  others  returned  to 
port  without  making  a  prize,  and  a  number  were  cap- 
tured by  the  enemy.  On  the  other  hand,  some  of 
these  private  armed  craft  took  as  many  as  twenty  in 
a  single  cruise,  and  on  one  occasion  twenty-eight 
prizes.  But,  admitting  that  one  hundred  and  sev- 
enty-four of  our  privateers  got  to  sea,  we  find  that, 
taking  the  aggregate  of  seven  hundred  and  thirty- 
three  vessels,  our  amateur  man-of-warsmen  averaged 
more  than  four  prizes  each.  Allowing  the  moderate 
estimate  of  fifteen  men  to  each  captured  British 
merchantmen,  we  have  a  total  of  ten  thousand  nine 
hundred  and  ninety-five  prisoners  made  on  the  high 
seas  by  our  enterprising  and  daring  privateersmen, 
or  fully  as  many  prisoners  as  our  land  forces  took 
in  the  same  time,  with  this  important  difference- 
namely,  that  many  of  the  prisoners  taken  by  our 
land  forces  were  foreign  mercenaries,  who  could  be 
replaced  so  long  as  the  stock  of  Hessians  lasted, 
while  the  men  captured  by  our  privateers  were  sail- 
ors, a  class  of  men  absolutely  necessary  to  Eng- 
land's existence  as  a  great  power,  and  a  class  she 
could  not  afford  to  lose. 

The  year  1779  opened  inauspiciously  for  Ameri- 
can privateers.  On  January  7th  one  of  the  newest 
and  best  of  our  armed  craft,  the  20-gun  brig  Gen- 
eral Arnold,  Captain  J.  Magee,  of  Massachusetts, 
was  driven  ashore  near  Plymouth,  and  seventy-five 
of  her  complement  of  one  hundred  and  twenty 
men  perished.  In  the  same  month  the  6-gun 
sloop  General  Stark,  with  twenty  men  aboard,  was 
wrecked  on  Nantucket  Shoals,  and  all  hands  lost. 


WEDNESDAY,    APRIL  9,    1776. 

INSTRUCTIONS  to  tie  COMMAKDERS  of  Private  Sbtpt  or  refills  of  War. 
tebJcbJbattbavt  Commlffions  or  Letters  ef  Morgue  and  Reprifal,  atfborijmg  tbem  to  make 
Captures  ofBritj/b  Ptffek  and  Cargoes* 

YO  U  may,  by  Force  of  Arms,  attack,  fubdue,  and  take  an  Shrps  ttd*  otherVeflels  belonging  to  the 
Inhabitants  of  Great-Britain,  on  the  High  Seas,  or  between  high -water  and  low-water  Marks,  except 
Sh'ips  and  Veflels  bringing-  Perfons  who  intend  to  fettle  and  refute  in  the  United  Colonies,  or  bringing 
Arms,  .Ammunition  or  Warlike  Stores  to  the  (aid  Colonies,  for  the  Ufe  of  fuch  Inhabitants  thereof  atare  Friends 
to  the  American,  Caufe,  which  yon  fhall  fuffer  to  pals  uomolefted,  the  Commanders  thereof  permitting  a  peace. 
fttteSearcb,  and  giving  fatisfagory  Information  of  the  Contents  of  the  Ladings,  and  Detention**  the  Voyages. 


'You  may,  by  Forte  of  Arms,  attack,  fubdne,  and  take  all  Ships  and  other  Veuels  wkatfeever  carrying  Soldier*, 
Arms,  Gun-powder,  Ammunition,  Provifions,  or  any  other  contraband  Goods,  to  any  of  the  Britifh  Armies  • 
or  Ships  of  War  employed  againft  tbefe  Colonies. 

.  HI. 

•'  You  fl»n  bring  fuch  Ships  and  Veflels  as  you  ihall  take,-  with  their  Guns,  Rigging,'  Tackle*  Apparel,  For* 
future  and  Ladings',  to  feme  convenient  Port  or  Ports  of  the  United  Colonies,  that  Proceedings  may  thereupon 
be  had  in  due  Form  before  die  Courts  which  are  or  Cull  be  there  appointed  to  hearand  determine  Caufes  civ  U  and 


You  or,  one  of  your  Chief  Officers  ihall  bring  or  fend  the  Mafter  and  Pilot  and  one  or  more  principal  Perfoa 
or  Perfon*  of  die  Company  of  every  Ship  or  Veflel  by  you  taken,  is  feon  after  die  Capture  as  may  be,  to  the 
Judge  or  Juttges  of  fuch  Court  as  aforefaid,  to  be  examined  npon  Oath,  and  make  Anfwer  to  die  Interrogatorle* 
which  may  be  propounded  touching  the  Intereft  or  Property  of  the  Ship  or  Veflel  and  her  Lading;  and  at  die  fan* 
Time  you  (ball  deliver  or  caufe  to  be  delivered  to  the  Judge  or  Judges,  all  PaAas,  Sea-Briefs,  Charter-Pardc** 
B{lls  of  Lading,  Cockets,  Letters,  and  other  Documents  and  Writings  found  on  Board,  proving  die  laid  Paper* 
b.y  the  Affidavit  of  yourielf,  orof  feme  other  Perfon  prefent  at  the  Capture,  to  be  produced  a*  they  were  weeded, 
SridioutFraud.  Addition.  Subduffion,  or  Embezzlement* 

V.  _ 

"'  You  ftall  keep  and  prdenre-every  Ship  or  Veflel  and  Cargo  by  yon  taken,  until  they  (hall  by  Sentence  of  r 
Court  propeily  authorifed  be  adjudged  lawful  Price,  not  felling,  fpcdling,  wafting,  or  dinuniming  the  lame  or* 
breaking  the  Bulk  thereof,  nor  fuffering  any,  fuch  Thing  to  be  done. 

VI.  _       _ 
If  yoti»  or  anj  of  your  Officers  or  Crew  ftaH,  in  cold  Blood,  kill  or  malm, "  or,  by  Tortnre  or  otherwtte, 

cruelly,  inhumanly,  and  contrary  to  common  Ufage  and  thePraaice  of  civilized  Nations  in  War,  treat  any  Per.' 
fon  or  Perfons  furpriwfd  in  the  Ship  or  Veflel  you  Hull, take,  die  Offender  flull  be  feverely  puniihed.  -  ' 


Yon  fliaD,  by  all  convenient  Opportunities,  fend  to  Congrefc  written  Accounts  of  the  Captures  you  fall 
make,  with  the  Number  and  Names  of  the  Captives,  Copies  of  your  Journal  from  Time  to  Time,  and  Intelli- 
gence of  what  may  occur  or  be  difeovered  concerning  die  Defigns  of  the  Enemy,  and  die  Daftinations,  Motions, 
and  Operations  of  their  Fleets  and  Armies. 


One  Third,  at  die  leafi*  of  your  whole  Company  ihall  be  Land-Men. 


Yen  ihall  not  ranfome  any  Prffonen  or-Capfivar,  but  (hall  dlfpofe  of  them  la  fuch  Manner  a*  the  Congreis, 
or  if  that  be  not  fitting  in  the  Colony  whither  they  ihall  be  brought,  as  the  General  Aflembly,  Convention,  or 
Council  or  Committee  of  Safety  of  fuch  Colony  ihall  direS. 

You  (hall  oDferve  all  fuch  further  Inflruafons  as  CongrefifiuOl  hereafter  ghre  In  the  Premffcj,  when  you  fiiali 
bare  Notice  thereof.  • 

Ai.  __._  _ 

If  you  flialT  do  any  Thing  contrary  to  diefelnftruffions,  or  to  others  hereafter  t»  be  given,  or  willingly  fuffer 
fuch  Thing  to  be  done,  you  ihall  not  only  forfeit  your  Commimen,  and  be  liable  to  an  Action  for  Breach  of  die 
Condition  of  your  Bond,  butbcfcfponfibls  to  the  Party  grieved  for  Damage,  foftalned  by  fuch  Mal-vcrfetion. 

By  Order  of  Congrffi, 


Instructions  to  privateers,  1776. 
From  an  original. 

1779.          THE  PROTECTOR-ADMIRAL  DUFF  FIGHT.          133 

The   General  Stark,  also,  was   commissioned  from 

These  reverses  were  in  some  degree  counterbal- 
anced by  the  Massachusetts  26-gun  ship  Protector, 
Captain  John  Foster  Williams,  which,  while  cruis- 
ing at  sea  January  9th,  fell  in  with  the  British  pri- 
vateer Admiral  Duff,  Captain  B.  Strange,  carrying 
thirty  guns  and  about  one  hundred  men.  The  Pro- 
tector had  a  complement  of  nearly  two  hundred  men 
and  boys.  The  two  ships  quickly  came  to  close  quar- 
ters, and  for  an  hour  and  a  half  maintained  a  fierce 
contest,  when  a  shot  from  the  Protector  penetrated 
the  Englishmen's  magazine  and  blew  them  up,  only 
fifty-five  of  their  crew  being  saved.  Edward  Preble, 
afterward  famous  in  the  navy,  was  a  young  midship- 
man at  this  time,  serving  in  the  Protector.  Soon 
after  this  the  Protector  had  a  running  fight  with  the 
British  frigate  Thames,  but  after  being  within  gun- 
shot several  hours  Captain  Williams  effected  his  es- 
cape. Ultimately  the  Protector  was  lost  at  sea. 

It  was  in  1779  that  the  armed  sloops  Active,  Cap- 
tain P.  Day,  of  Pennsylvania,  and  American  Revenue, 
Captain  N.  Shaw  (afterward  commanded  by  Cap- 
tain Leeds),  of  Connecticut,  got  to  sea  and  made  im- 
portant captures.  The  Active  carried  fourteen  guns, 
with  sixty  men,  and  captured,  after  a  slight  resist- 
ance, the  British  privateer  Mercury,  of  eight  guns, 
commanded  by  Captain  Campbell.  The  American 
Revenue,  armed  with  twelve  guns  and  manned  by 
about  one  hundred  men,  took  the  8-gun  schooner 
Sally,  besides  another  schooner  laden  with  tobacco, 
and  a  sloop  with  a  cargo  of  rum. 

Three  other  armed  vessels,  the  Baltimore  Hero,  the 
Oat,  and  the  Intrepid,  made  prizes  early  this  year. 
The  Baltimore  Hero  had  a  drawn  battle  with  a  Brit- 
ish vessel  of  equal  force  in  the  Chesapeake,  and 
afterward  made  a  prize.  This  privateer  carried 
fourteen  guns,  eight  swivels,  and  a  crew  of  thirty 
men,  under  Captain  J.  Earle.  The  Oat,  a  2-gun 

134:  THE  WORK  OF  1779.  1779. 

schooner  with  seventy  men,  under  Captain  E.  Ledger, 
of  Pennsylvania,  made  one  capture,  while  the  In- 
trepid,  of  New  Hampshire,  a  ship  of  twenty  guns 
and  one  hundred  and  sixty  men,  under  Captain  M. 
Brown,  took  four  vessels  from  the  enemy. 

Early  in  1779  the  14-gun  brig  Hibernia,  Captain 
E.  Collins,  manned  by  only  thirty-five  men,  fell  in 
with  a  king's  cruiser  mounting  an  equal  number  of 
guns,  but  having  a  complement  of  eighty  men.  A 
severe  action  followed,  and  it  was  only  after  sev- 
eral had  been  killed  on  each  side  that  the  vessels 
mutually  separated.  Another  private  armed  brig 
bearing  this  name,  also  from  Pennsylvania,  but  com- 
manded by  Captain  J.  Angus,  while  on  a  voyage  to 
Teneriffe,  had  an  action  with  a  snow  mounting 
sixteen  guns.  The  Americans  managed  to  beat 
their  adversary  off.  Shortly  afterward  this  Hibernia 
was  attacked  by  two  armed  schooners  and  a  sloop, 
which  she  also  beat  off,  with  a  loss  of  two  killed 
and  eight  wounded.  The  loss  of  the  British  is  un- 

In  April  the  16-gun  brig  Holker,  manned  by  one 
hundred  men,  under  Captain  M.  Lawler,  of  Pennsyl- 
vania, while  at  sea  captured  a  schooner  of  ten  guns, 
with  forty-eight  men,  besides  two  armed  sloops.  In 
the  following  July  the  Hollcer  captured,  after  an  ac- 
tion of  an  hour  and  a  half,  with  a  loss  of  six 
killed  and  sixteen  wounded,  among  the  latter  being 
Captain  Lawler  and  his  first  officer,  a  brig  of  six- 
teen guns.  The  enemy's  loss  was  six  killed  and 
twenty  wounded.  There  was  another  brig  bearing 
the  name  Holker,  commissioned  from  the  same  State, 
carrying  ten  guns  and  thirty-five  men,  under  Cap- 
tain George  Geddes,  which  in  June  captured  the 
British  ship  Diana,  having  on  board,  as  a  part  of 
her  cargo,  eighty  cannon,  sixty  swivels-,  ten  coehorns, 
and  other  military  supplies.  In  the  following  Au- 
gust this  Holker  captured  three  brigs  laden  with 
rum  and  sugar,  one  of  which  was  wrecked  off  Cape 

1779.       DESPERATE  FIGHT  AGAINST  AN  INDIAMAN.       135 

May.  Before  returning  to  port  the  Holk&r  took  a 
6-gun  sloop  laden  with  drygoods. 

One  of  the  largest  privateers  commissioned  from 
New  Hampshire  was  the  Hampden,  mounting  twenty- 
two  guns  and  manned  by  one  hundred  and  fifty  men. 
While  under  the  command  of  Captain  Salter  the 
Hampden,  in  latitude  48°  north,  longitude  28°  west, 
fell  in  with  a  large  Indiaman  armed  with  twenty-six 
guns.  The  vessels  began  an  action  which  lasted  three 
hours,  when  they  separated,  both  in  a  crippled  condi- 
tion, the  Americans  having  twenty-one  killed  or  in- 
jured. The  Hampden  was  captured  by  the  British  in 
the  Penobscot  expedition.  They  found  her  to  be  such 
a  fine  craft  that  they  took  her  into  the  king's  service. 

A  privateer  of  the  name  Franklin,  Captain  J.  Bob- 
inson,  mounting  eight  guns,  some  time  in  1779  cap- 
tured the  British  schooner  True  Blue,  of  ten  guns, 
and  two  other  vessels. 

In  April  the  little  1-gun  schooner  Two  Brothers, 
of  twenty-five  men,  Captain  W.  Gray,  from  Massa- 
chusetts, took  aboard  a  number  of  volunteers  at 
Salem,  and  captured  a  privateer  of  eight  guns  and 
sixty  men.  In  the  same  month  the  12-gun  private 
schooner  Hunter,  of  Pennsylvania,  with  a  comple- 
ment of  sixty  men,  under  Captain  J.  Douglass,  fell 
in  with  a  well-armed  British  ship,  which  she  engaged 
for  one  hour,  when  the  Englishmen  made  sail  in 
flight,  leaving  the  Americans  with  four  men  wound- 
ed. Afterward  the  Hunter  captured  a  schooner.  A 
privateer  bearing  this  name,  commissioned  in  Mas- 
sachusetts, a  ship  of  twenty  guns  and  one  hundred 
and  fifty  men,  under  Captain  Brown,  was  lost  in  the 
Penobscot  expedition. 

In  April  of  the  same  year  the  14-gun  ship  Roe- 
luck,  Captain  G.  Hemfield — afterward  commanded 
by  Captain  Gray — of  Massachusetts,  while  cruising 
off  Salem,  captured  the  British  privateer  Castor,  of 
eight  guns  and  sixty  men. 

In  June,  1779,  the  10-gun  sloop  Hancock,  Captain 

136  THE  WORK  OF  1779.  1779. 

T.  Chester,  of  Connecticut,  captured  the  British 
armed  schooner  HawJce,  and  in  the  same  month  the 
little  schooner  Terrible,  Captain  J.  Baker,  of  Penn- 
sylvania, made  a  prize  of  a  schooner.  In  August 
the  18-gun  brig  Hancock,  Captain  P.  Eichards,  of 
Connecticut,  captured  three  brigs  laden  with  rum. 

In  the  following  month  prizes  were  taken  by  the 
8-gun  brig  Impertinent,  Captain  J.  Young,  of  Penn- 
sylvania, by  the  6-gun  brig  Macaroni,  and  by  the 
12-gun  brig  Wild  Cat.  It  was  on  July  6th  that  the 
Impertinent  fell  in  with  a  suspicious-looking  sail,  and 
promptly  gave  chase.  The  American  brig  rapidly 
gained,  and  it  was  seen  that  the  stranger  was  light- 
ening herself  by  throwing  overboard  heavy  articles, 
some  of  which  afterward  were  known  to  have  been 
her  cannon.  In  spite  of  these  extreme  measures  the 
fleeing  Englishman — for  such  the  stranger  proved 
to  be — steadily  lost  ground,  and  soon  was  under  the 
Impertinent' s  guns.  The  stranger  surrendered  at  the 
first  summons,  and  on  sending  a  boat  aboard  Cap- 
tain Young  learned  that  it  was  the  king's  cruiser 
Harlem,  of  fourteen  guns,  with  a  crew  of  eighty-five 
men.  The  commander  of  the  Harlem,  when  he  found 
that  he  must  be  overtaken,  got  into  a  boat  with  a 
few  men  and  endeavored  to  escape,  but  before  they 
had  proceeded  any  great  distance  the  boat  upset, 
and  all  hands  were  lost. 

A  brig  and  two  schooners  were  captured  by  the 
Macaroni,  Captain  D.  Keybold,  of  Pennsylvania,  in 
July,  and  on  the  13th  of  the  same  month  the  14-gun 
craft  Wild  Oat,  with  a  complement  of  seventy-five 
men,  after  a  severe  action,  took  the  king's  schooner 
Egmont,  commanded  by  a  lieutenant  in  the  Royal 
Navy.  Before  the  Wild  Gat  could  secure  her  prize, 
however,  she  was  captured  by  the  British  frigate 

One  of  the  first  prizes  made  by  an  American  pri- 
vateer in  August,  1779,  was  the  brig  Pitt,  loaded 
with  rum  and  sugar,  which  was  taken  by  the  18-gun 

1779.  TAKING  A  ZING'S  SHIP.  137 

schooner  Jay,  Captain  Courier,  with  one  hundred 
men,  from  Pennsylvania.  About  the  same  time  the 
14-gun  brig  Mars,  Captain  Y.  Taylor,  of  the  same 
State,  captured  the  British  sloop  Active,  mounting 
twelve  guns,  under  the  command  of  Captain  Irvine. 
This  vessel  was  taken  by  boarding,  the  English  hav- 
ing their  first  officer  and  steward  killed.  The  Mars 
also  captured  the  transport  brig  Polly,  having  on 
board  two  hundred  and  fourteen  Hessians,  besides 
a  snow  of  fourteen  guns  and  forty-five  men.  These 
vessels  were  taken  off  Sandy  Hook.  The  snow  was 
retaken  by  the  British  on  the  following  day.  It  was 
in  August  of  this  year  that  the  12-gun  sloop  Polly, 
with  one  hundred  men,  under  Captain  Leech,  of  Mas- 
sachusetts, took  a  brig  laden  with  tobacco. 

In  September  the  6-gun  sloop  Happy  Return,  Cap- 
tain J.  Leach,  of  New  Jersey,  took  a  brig,  and  two 
sloops  laden  with  fustic  and  rum,  and  in  the  follow- 
ing month  Captain  Craig,  of  the  Continental  army, 
with  a  detachment  of  his  company,  captured  the 
British  sloop  Neptune,  carrying  ten  guns,  four  swiv- 
els, and  two  coehorns,  manned  by  twenty-one  men, 
near  Elizabethtown.  Before  her  cargo  could  be  got 
ashore,  however,  a  British  war  ship  appeared  and 
recaptured  the  Neptune. 

Some  of  the  other  privateers  making  prizes  this 
year  were  the  18-gun  ship  OUver  Cromwell,  Captain 
Parker,  of  Massachusetts,  which  captured  a  tender 
of  ten  guns  belonging  to  the  ship  of  the  line  St. 
George — the  Oliver  Cromwell  also  took  a  ship  and  a 
schooner,  making  sixty  prisoners  in  all — the  Pallas, 
of  Massachusetts,  which  took  a  ship  loaded  with  pro- 
visions, and  the  6-gun  brig  Resolution,  Captain  Z. 
Seare,  of  Massachusetts,  which  made  five  prizes. 
The  private  armed  sloop  Sally,  Captain  J.  Smith,  of 
New  York,  had  a  severe  battle  with  a  British  trans- 
port carrying  eight  guns.  The  vessels  finally  sepa- 
rated by  mutual  consent,  the  Americans  having  a 
loss  of  five  killed  and  twelve  wounded. 



THE  action  between  the  Kearsarge  and  the  Ala- 

ima,  fought  off  Cherbourg,  June  19, 1864,  has  justly 

een  regarded  as  one  of  the  most  dramatic  naval 

uels  on  record.    Farragut,  in  a  letter  to  his  son, 

dd  of  it:  "I  would  sooner  have  fought  that  fight 

lian  any  ever  fought  on  the  ocean.    Only  think!    It 

ras  fought  like  a  tournament,  in  full  view  of  thou- 

a,nds  of  French  and  English,  with  a  perfect  confi- 

ence,  on  the  part  of  all  but  the  Union  people,  that 

re  would  be  whipped."   There  was  an  action  fought 

etween  an  American  and  an  English  privateer  off 

tie  Spanish  coast  nearly  a  hundred  years  before 

his,  however,  which  may  well  be  called  the  "  Kear- 

wge-Alabama,  fight  of  the  Revolution."    Like  the 

amous  naval  duel  in  the  civil  war,  this  action  took 

lace  near  land,  where  thousands  of  people  watched 

he   struggle   in   breathless   eagerness   or   wildly 

peculated  on  the  result.    The  battle  referred  to 

ras  fought  off  Bilboa,  June  4,  1780,  between  the 

onerican  privateer  General  Pickering,  commanded 

y  Jonathan  Haraden,  and  the  British  letter  of 

larque  Achilles,  of  London.    The  General  Pickering 

ras  from  Salem,  where  she  had  been  fitted  out  and 

lanned.   She  was  a  ship  of  one  hundred  and  eighty 

ons,  mounted  fourteen  6-pounders — the  ordinary 

aliber  in  ships  of  her  class  in  that  day— and  car- 

ied  a  crew  of  forty-five  men  and  boys. 

Haraden  was  one  of  the  most  daring  and  skillful 

1776.        A  SEAMAN  OF  EXTRAOED1KARY  ABILITY.         139 

navigators  that  ever  sailed  from  Salem,  and  that 
is  saying  a  great  deal  when  we  come  to  consider  the 
long  list  of  successful  commanders  who  have  hailed 
from  that  port.  He  belonged  to  that  group  of  men 
who  have  made  old  Salem  town  famous  the  world 
over,  such  as  John  Carnes,  Benjamin  Crowninshield, 
Thomas  Benson,  John  Felt,  William  Gray,  Joseph 
Waters,  Simon  Forrester,  Thomas  Perkins,  and  John 
Derby.  Haraden  had  the  reputation  of  being  one 
of  the  most  intrepid  commanders  known  even  to 
Salem  ship  lore.  It  has  been  said  of  him,  that "  amid 
the  din  of  battle  he  was  calm  and  self-possessed. 
The  more  deadly  the  strife,  the  more  imminent  the 
peril,  the  more  terrific  the  scene,  the  more  perfect 
seemed  his  self-command  and  serene  intrepidity.  He 
was  a  hero  among  heroes,  and  his  name  should  live 
in  honored  and  affectionate  remembrance."  Bather 
lavish  praise,  but  the  man  deserved  it,  as  will  soon 

Haraden  certainly  was  ^daring  sailor  and  a  sea- 
man of  extraordinary  ability.  His  many  successes 
in  the  struggle  for  independence  fully  bear  out  this 
statement,  and  entitle  him  to  be  placed  with  such 
naval  heroes  of  the  Eevolution  as  Oonnyngham, 
Whipple,  Hopkins,  and  John  Paul  Jones.  He  was 
born  in  Gloucester,  Massachusetts,  in  1745,  and  died 
in  Salem  in  1803,  spending  most  of  his  active  life  on 
the  sea.  He  came  to  Salem  as  a  boy  and  entered 
the  service  of  Bichard  Cabot,  father  of  the  presi- 
dent of  the  famous  Hartford  Convention.  Soon 
after  hostilities  broke  out  between  the  American 
colonies  and  the  mother  country  he  hastened  to  draw 
his  sword  in  defense  of  his  native  land,  and  early 
in  1776  was  appointed  a  "  lieutenant "  in  the  Tyr<m- 
nidde,  commanded  by  Captain  J.  Fiske,  of  Salem. 
The  name  of  this  vessel  is  sufficiently  suggestive  of 
the  spirit  of  her  owners  and  crew,  and  she  soon 
justified  the  appellation  in  a  striking  manner  by- 
capturing  a  royal  cutter  and  carrying  her  in  tri- 

0  JONATHAN  EABADEN.  1776-1779. 

aph  into  Salem,  the  prize  being  bound  from  Hali- 
x  to  New  York  with  important  papers  aboard.  In 
e  same  cruise  the  Tyrannicide,  June  13,  1776,  had 
spirited  action  with  the  British  packet  schooner 
espatch,  carrying  eight  guns,  twelve  swivels,  and 
irty-one  men.  The  privateer  was  a  brig  carrying 
•urteen  guns  and  one  hundred  men.  After  a  lively 
*ht  of  about  an  hour  the  Despatch  surrendered,  hav- 
.g  sustained  a  loss  of  seven  men  wounded,  with  her 
>mmander,  Mr.  Gutteridge,  and  one  killed.  The 
mericans  had  one  man  killed  and  two  wounded.  In 
xe  following  month  the  Tyrannicide  captured  the 
rmed  ship  Glasgow  and  made  thirty  prisoners.  In 
.ugust  she  took  the  brig  St.  John  and  the  schooner 
hree  Brothers.  In  the  following  year  this  vessel, 
hile  in  company  with  the  privateer  brig  Massa- 
lusetts,  of  that  State,  attacked  the  British  bark 
awnsdale,  and  after  a  struggle  lasting  three  hours 
iptured  her.  The  enemy  had  three  men  killed.  In 
le  same  cruise  the  Massachusetts  took  a  ship  and 
ix  other  vessels,  in  one  of  which  were  sixty-three 
[essian  chasseurs. 

On  the  29th  of  March,  1779,  the  Tyrcwnicide,  while 
raising  off  Bermuda,  fell  in  with  the  English  brig 
tevenge,  Captain  Kendall,  carrying  fourteen  guns 
nd  eighty-five  men.  The  privateer  at  this  time  had 
complement  of  ninety  men,  but  mounted  the  same 
umber  of  guns  as  formerly,  so  that  the  two  vessels 
'ere  about  evenly  matched.  The  ships  quickly  came 
3  Qlose  quarters,  and  it  was  not  long  before  the 
jnericans  managed  to  make  fast  alongside.  Then 
egan  a  tooth-and-nail  fight.  For  over  an  hour  the 
wo  crews  fought  each  other  over  their  bulwarks, 
rhen  the  English,  having  a  large  number  of  killed 
r  wounded  and  two  of  their  cannon  dismounted, 
urrender.ed.  The  Americans  had  eight  men 
rounded.  This  was  the  last  important  service  per- 
ormed  by  the  Tyrannicide.  She  was  one  of  the  thir- 
een  privateers  that  took  part  in  the  ill-fated  Penob- 

1780.  A  YANKEE  TEICK 

scot  expedition,  and  was  destroyed  by  her  own 
people,  August  14,  1779,  to  prevent  her  falling  into 
the  hands  of  the  enemy. 

Having  received  his  baptism  of  fire  in  this  well- 
named  vessel,  Haraden  was  not  long  in  finding  a 
suitable  berth,  and  in  the  spring  of  1780  he  sailed 
from  Salem  as  commander  of  the  180-ton  priva- 
teer General  Pickering,  with  a  cargo  of  sugar  for 
Bilboa.  At  that  time  this  port  was  a  famous  ren- 
dezvous for  privateers,  not  only  of  the  United 
States,  but  for  those  of  England  and  Prance.  It 
was  customary  for  our  ships  .to  sail  for  this  place 
with  a  cargo  of  sugar,  and  capture  a  prize  or  two 
on  the  passage  over  if  possible.  After  disposing  of 
the  sugar  the  privateers  went  on  a  general  cruise 
after  the  enemy's  merchantmen,  filling  their  empty 
holds  with  such  goods  as  they  could  readily  move 
from  a  prize  and  returning  to  the  United  States, 
where  the  cargoes  were  sold  to  the  best  advantage. 

On  this  passage  over  Haraden  had  an  unusually 
exciting  time.  On  May  29th  he  was  attacked  by  a 
British  cutter,  but  although  his  antagonist  carried 
six  guns  more  than  he  did  Haraden,  after  a  desper- 
ate fight  of  two  hours,  succeeded  in  beating  the 
e'nemy  off.  As  the  General  Pickering  entered  the  Bay 
of  Biscay  she  fell  in  with  the  English  privateer 
schooner  Golden  Eagle,  carrying  twenty-two  guns 
and  sixty  men,  the  American  mounting  only  sixteen 
cannon.  Having  come  upon  the  Englishman  at 
night  and  unobserved,  and  having  formed  a  fairly  ac- 
curate idea  of  her  force,  Haraden  boldly  ran  along- 
side and  called  on  the  stranger  to  surrender,  declar- 
ing at  the  same  time  that  his  craft  was  an  American 
frigate  of  the  largest  class,  and  that  he  would  blow 
the  British  privateer  out  of  water  if  she  did  not 

This  was  no  ill-considered  threat  on  the  part  of 
the  General  Pickering's  commander,  for  less  than  a 
year  before  Captain  John  Paul  Jones,  in  the  Bon- 

142  JONATHAN  EABADEN.  1780. 

homme  Richard,  had  sunk  one  of  the  finest  frigates 
in  the  British  navy,  the  Serapis,  within  pistol-shot 
of  the  English  coast,  and  such  was  the  effect  of  that 
astounding  achievement  on  the  mind  of  the  British 
public  that  the  most  extravagant  stories  as  to  the 
number  and  force  of  Yankee  war  ships,  and  as  to 
their  whereabouts  and  daring,  found  ready  cre- 
dence. So  when  Haraden  announced  himself  as  hav- 
ing an  "  American  frigate  of  the  largest  class  "  he 
well  knew,  from  what  he  had  learned  of  the  con- 
sternation produced  in  Great  Britain  by  the  unparal- 
leled victories  of  the  American  navy,  that  his  con- 
fused enemy  would  be  more  than  likely  to  believe 
it.  Such  proved  to  be  the  case,  for  the  Englishmen 
were  taken  so  completely  by  surprise  that  they  were 
unable  to  make  any  defense,  and  promptly  struck 
their  flag.  When  the  British  skipper  came  aboard 
the  General  Pickering  he  expressed  great  humiliation 
at  having  given  in  to  such  an  inferior  force.  But 
it  was  too  late  to  repent,  for  Second  Officer  John 
Games  had  been  sent  aboard  the  Golden  Eagle  with 
a  prize  crew,  and  soon  had  the  Stars  and  Stripes 
waving  at  her  gaff. 

It  was  only  a  few  days  after  this  that  the  General 
Pickering  gave  battle  to  the  Achilles.  Early  in  the 
morning  of  June  3d,  when  the  American  privateer 
was  approaching  Bilboa,  a  large  sail  was  observed 
working  out  of  that  port.  Inquiring  of  his  prisoner, 
the  master  of  the  captured  schooner,  Haraden  was 
told  that  the  stranger  was  the  AcMlles,  a  privateer 
of  London,  mounting  forty-two  guns  and  carrying 
one  hundred  and  forty  men.  Thinking  that  this 
might  be  merely  a  trick  on  the  part  of  the  com- 
mander of  the  Golden  Eagle  to  induce  the  American 
to  run  away  from  the  sail,  or  to  surrender  if  he  once 
found  himself  under  the  AcMles's  guns,  Haraden 
coolly  replied,  "  I  shan't  run  from  her,"  and  boldly 
held  on  his  course.  The  light  wind  prevented  the 
vessels  from  coming  together  that  day,  but  the 

1780.  THE  ACHILLES  OPENS  FIRE.  143 

Americans  saw  enough  of  the  stranger  to  realize 
that  they  were  in  the  presence  of  a  powerful  foe. 
Before  sunset  the  Achilles — for  such  she  proved  to  be 
— had  recaptured  the  General  Pickering's  prize,  and 
placing  a  crew  aboard  slowly  beat  to  a  favorable 
position  for  attacking  the  Americans.  Night  com- 
ing on,  the  British  deferred  their  attack  until  day- 
light so  as  make  sure  of  the  Yankee  so  nearly  within 
their  grasp.  The  presence  of  the  powerful  Achilles 
did  not  in  the  least  disturb  Haraden,for  it  is  recorded 
that  he  took  a  "  sound  night's  sleep  and  recruited 
a  boatswain  and  eight  sailors  from  his  prisoners 
in  the  morning,  when  they  went  to  work  on  shore." 

By  this  time  the  news  had  spread  that  an  Ameri- 
can and  British  war  ship,  in  full  view  of  the  land, 
were  about  to  fight,  and  thousands  of  people  flocked 
down  to  the  water's  edge  and  occupied  all  vantage 
points,  eager  to  witness  a  naval  battle.  They  were 
disappointed  that  day,  but  when  day  broke  June 
4th  it  found  the  ships  ready  for  action,  and  the  same 
multitude  of  Spaniards  again  assembled  and  impa- 
tiently waited  to  see  the  contest. 

The  British  lost  no  time  in  beginning  the  attack, 
and  shortly  after  daylight  they  bore  down  on  the 
Yankees  with  confident  hurrahs.  But  Haraden  had 
made  his  preparations  for  defense  with  his  usual 
skill.  Availing  himself  of  the  conformation  of  the 
land  and  some  shoals  which  he  knew  to  be  in  the 
vicinity,  he  placed  his  ship  in  such  a  position  that 
the  Englishman,  in  approaching,  would  be  exposed 
to  a  raking  fire  from  the  General  Pickering's  entire 
broadside.  It  so  happened  that  the  wind  gradually 
died  out,  just  as  the  British  were  getting  into  effec- 
tive range,  so  that  they  were  exposed  to  a  murder- 
ous raking  fire  from  the  Americans  much  longer 
than  they  had  counted  upon*  Still  the  English  com- 
mander had  a  vastly  superior  force,  and  as  it  would 
never  do  for  a  British  war  ship  to  run  away  from  an 
American  of  inferior  strength,  especially  when  thou- 


sands  of  Spaniards  were  watching  every  move,  lie 
bravely  held  on  his  course. 

After  enduring  the  destructive  fire  from  the 
General  Pickering  about  two  hours,  without  being 
able  to  gain  his  desired  position,  the  British  com- 
mander brought  the  head  of  his  ship  about  and 
opened  with  his  broadside  guns.  Several  efforts 
were  made  to  bring  the  ships  into  closer  quarters, 
but  conscious  of  the  advantage  his  position  gave 
him,  and  knowing  that  he  had  a  brave  foe  with 
superior  force  to  contend  with,  Haraden  tenaciously 
maintained  his  tactics,  and  finally,  after  a  battle  of 
three  hours,  he  compelled  the  Achilles  to  make  sail 
to  escape.  It  is  said  that  toward  the  close  of  the 
action  Haraden,  finding  himself  running  short  of 
ammunition,  ordered  his  gunner  to  load  with  crow- 
bars, which  had  been  taken  out  of  a  prize.  This 
"flight  of  crowbars"  produced  the  utmost  con- 
sternation in  the  English  craft,  and  is  believed  to 
have  precipitated  her  retreat.  The  General  Pickermg 
vainly  endeavored  to  come  up  with  her.  Haraden 
offered  a  large  reward  to  the  gunner  who  carried 
away  one  of  the  Englishman's  spars,  but  for  once 
"  the  man  behind  the  gun  "  was  not  equal  to  the 
emergency,  and  the  Achilles  escaped.  The  Ameri- 
cans did  succeed,  however,  in  retaking  their  prize, 
which  was  carried  safely  into  Bilboa.  Aboard  the 
Golden  Eagle  were  found  a  British  prize  crew  and 
the  second  officer  of  the  Achilles. 

So  interested  had  the  people  on  shore  become  in 
the  battle  that  they  took  to  boats  and  drew  nearer 
and  nearer  to  the  contestants,  until  finally,  toward 
the  close  of  the  action,  the  General  Pickering  found 
herself  literally  surrounded  by  a  wildly  enthusiastic 
crowd.  This  impromptu  escort  of  boats  accom- 
panied the  privateer  and  her  prize  to  their  anchor- 
age in  the  harbor,  and  soon  after  they  dropped  an- 
chor it  is  stated  that  it  was  possible  to  have  walked 
ashore  over  the  craft  of  all  kinds  that  swarmed 

1780.  A  CLEVER  RUSE.  145 

about.  Captain  Haraden  had  occasion  to  go  ashore 
shortly  afterward,  and  so  great  was  the  enthusiasm 
and  admiration  of  the  Spaniards  over  his  heroic  de- 
fense that  they  raised  him  bodily  on  their  shoulders 
and  bore  him  in  triumph  through  the  city. 

The  venerable  Eobert  Cowan,  who  witnessed  this 
battle,  said,  shortly  before  he  died:  "The  General 
Pickering,  in  comparison  with  her  antagonist,  looked 
like  a  longboat  by  the  side  of  a  ship."  Speaking  of 
Haraden's  conduct  in  the  battle,  Cowan  said:  "He 
fought  with  a  determination  that  seemed  super- 
human, and  that,  although  in  the  most  exposed  posi- 
tions, where  the  shot  flew  around  him,  he  was  all 
the  while  as  calm  and  steady  as  amid  a  shower  of 

Eeturning  to  the  United  States  after  this  adven- 
ture Captain  Haraden,  in  October,  while  off  Sandy 
Hook,  fell  in  with  three  armed  merchantmen — the 
ship  Hope,  carrying  fourteen  guns;  the  brig  Pomone, 
of  twelve  guns;  and  the  cutter  Royal  George,  of  four- 
teen guns.  By  skillful  maneuvering  Haraden  man- 
aged to  separate  the  enemy,  and  after  an  exciting 
action  of  an  hour  and  a  half  captured  all  of  them. 

During  the  Eevolution  Haraden  captured  vessels 
from  the  enemy  the  guns  of  which  aggregated  over 
one  thousand.  In  one  of  his  cruises,  subsequent  to 
his  heroic  fight  with  the  Achilles,  Haraden,  still  in 
command  of  his  favorite  ship,  the  General  Pickering, 
fell  in  with  a  homeward-bound  king's  packet  from 
one  of  the  West  India  islands.  This  ship  proved  to 
be  unusually  heavily  armed  and  manned,  so  that 
after  an  action  of  four  hours  Haraden  found  it 
necessary  to  haul  off  to  repair  damages.  He  also 
discovered  that  he  had  expended  all  but  one  round 
of  his  ammunition.  An  ordinary  commander  of  a 
ship,  tinder  such  circumstances  as  these,  would  have 
thought  himself  fortunate  in  retiring  from  the  con- 
test with  his  colors  flying.  But  Haraden  was  not 
an  ordinary  commander.  He,  like  John  Paul  Jones, 

14:6  JONATHAN  HARAPEN.  1780. 

was  one  of  those  few  seamen  who  are  equal  to  any 
emergency,  and  who  have  the  faculty  of  turning  their 
misfortunes  into  the  very  instruments  of  success. 

Having  repaired  the  damages  as  well  as  his  lim- 
ited time  and  means  would  allow,  he  rammed  home 
his  last  round  of  powder  and  shot,  and  boldly  run- 
ning alongside  his  antagonist  quietly  informed  the 
Englishmen  that  he  would  give  them  exactly  five 
minutes  in  which  to  haul  down  their  colors,  and  that 
if  they  did  not  do  so  at  the  expiration  of  that  time 
he  would  send  every  man  of  them  to  the  bottom  of 
the  sea.  Then  running  up  the  red  flag,  "  no  quarter," 
he  coolly  took  out  a  timepiece,  and  standing  where 
he  could  be  plainly  seen  by  the  enemy  he  called  out 
every  few  seconds  the  various  lapses  of  time  that 
had  expired. 

This  singular  summons  had  a  peculiar  effect  on 
the  minds  of  the  Englishmen,  which  the  shrewd 
American  commander  doubtless  had  calculated 
upon.  The  Englishman  probably  would  have  re- 
newed the  battle,  and  would  have  fought  to  the  last 
plank  with  his  usual  courage,  had  the  Yankee  gone 
about  it  in  the  customary  blood-and-thunder  way. 
But  this  sudden  calm  within  short  range  (where  the 
two  crews  were  actually  staring  into  one  another's 
faces,  and  could  almost  shake  hands  across  their  bul- 
warks), this  dreadful  suspense  before  shotted  guns, 
with  a  man  holding  a  lighted  match  in  one  hand 
and  a  timepiece  in  the  other,  was  too  much  for  the 
nerves  of  the  Englishmen,  and  before  the  expiration 
of  the  five  minutes  they  hauled  down  their  colors. 

Haraden,  in  his  five  or  six  years  fighting  against 
the  English,  evidently  had  come  to  the  conclusion 
reached  by  Napoleon  some  years  later — namely, 
"that  an  Englishman  never  knows  when  he  is 
whipped."  In  this  case  the  American  commander 
thought  it  best  to  give  them  five  minutes  in  which 
to  think  it  over.  The  wisdom  of  doing  so  is  seen  in 
the  result,  for  there  seems  to  have  been  no  question 


about  the  packet's  having  been  hopelessly  beaten 
before  tEe  General  Pickering  hauled  off  for  repairs, 
as,  when  the  Americans  went  aboard  to  take  pos- 
session, they  found  the  decks  of  their  prize  covered 
with  dead  and  wounded  men  and  the  blood  was  ooz- 
ing from  the  scuppers  in  a  sluggish  stream. 

Just  two  years  after  his  extraordinary  action 
with  the  Achilles,  or  on  June  5,  1782,  Haraden,  then 
in  command  of  the  14-gun  ship  Ccesar,  fell  in  with 
an  armed  ship  and  brig.  Of  course  there  was 
a  fight  right  off,  and  for  two  hours  neither  side 
could  gain  a  decisive  advantage,  when,  as  Captain 
Haraden  quaintly  remarked,  "both  parties  sepa- 
rated, sufficiently  amused." 



IN  the  chapter  on  "  Navy  Officers  in  Privateers  " 
mention  was  made  of  the  capture  of  the  armed  brig 
Pomona,  commanded  by  Captain  Isaiah  Robinson,  of 
the  navy,  who  had  as  his  first  officer  Lieutenant 
Joshua  Barney,  also  of  the  regular  service.    The  ex- 
periences of  the  latter  officer  in  British  prisons  were 
so  extraordinary  as  to  be  deserving  of  special  men- 
tion.   On  the  capture  of  the  Pomona,  as  related  in 
the  chapter  referred  to,  Barney  was  placed  in  one 
of  the  prison  ships  at  Wale  Bogt.    The  arrival  of  Ad- 
miral Byron,  who  relieved  Lord  Howe  as  the  com- 
mander in  chief  of  the  British  naval  forces  on  the 
American  station,  did  much  to  improve  the  condi- 
tion of  these  prisoners.    A  few  days  after  taking 
command,  Byron  visited  the  prison  ships  and  or- 
dered several  large,  airy  vessels  to  be  fitted  for  the 
Americans,  special  accommodations  and  better  food 
being  reserved  for  the  sick.    Those  officers  who  be- 
longed to  the  regular  navy  were  taken  aboard  the 
war  ships,  and  some  of  them  enjoyed  the  freedom  of 
the  flagship  Ardent.   Admiral  Byron  made  it  a  point 
to  personally  inspect  the  prison  ships  regularly 
every  week,  accompanied  by  his  fleet  captain  and 
secretary,  and  to  inquire  minutely  into  the  conduct 
of  the  prisoners  and  listen  to  any  complaints  they 
had  to  make. 

Among  the  American  officers  who  had  the  good 
fortune  to  come  under  the  ministrations  of  Admiral 


1780.         A  MOB  ATTACKS  LIEUTENANT  BABNEY.  149 

Byron  was  Lieutenant  Barney.  This  officer  was 
transferred  to  the  Ardent,  and  one  of  his  duties  was 
to  visit  the  prison  ships  and  report  on  their  con- 
dition to  the  admiral.  Barney  had  a  boat  placed 
under  his  command,  and  was  permitted  to  go  ashore 
whenever  he  pleased,  being  required  only  to  sleep 
aboard  the  Ardent.  It  was  on  one  of  his  trips  on 
shore  that  Barney  found  he  was  safer  in  the  hands 
of  his  captors  than  among  the  townsfolk.  He 
had  been  invited  to  breakfast  ashore  with  Sir  Wil- 
liam Tevisden,  one  of  the  admiral's  aids,  and  had 
landed  for  that  purpose,  when  he  was  roughly  seized 
by  a  mob  of  men  and  boys.  It  seems  that  a  large 
fire  had  broken  out  in  New  York  and  was  raging 
at  the  time  the  lieutenant  landed.  Being  dressed 
in  the  full  American  naval  uniform,  a  crowd  im- 
mediately set  upon  him,  and,  accusing  him  of  having 
originated  the  fire,  proceeded  to  throw  him  into  the 
flames.  The  threat  undoubtedly  would  have  been 
carried  out  had  it  not  been  for  the  intervention  of  a 
British  officer.  Even  then  the  mob  declared  that 
the  lieutenant's  explanation  of  having  just  landed 
for  the  purpose  of  breakfasting  with  Sir  William 
Tevisden  was  a  hoax,  and  it  was  not  until,  at  the 
suggestion  of  the  British  officer,  they  had  proceeded 
to  the  aid's  house  and  heard  the  story  from  his  lips 
that  Lieutenant  Barney  was  released. 

Unfortunately  for  the  American  prisoners  Ad- 
miral Byron  was  soon  superseded  by  Admiral  Rod- 
ney, who,  in  December,  1780,  ordered  the  64-gun 
ship  of  the  line  Yarmouth,  Captain  Lutwidge — the 
same  that  blew  up  the  Randolph  two  years  before * — 
to  transport  seventy-one  officers  to  England,  Barney 
being  among  them.  From  the  time  these  Americans 
stepped  aboard  the  Yarmouth  their  captors  gave  it 
to  be  understood,  by  hints  and  innuendoes,  that  they 
were  being  taken  to  England  to  "be  hanged  as 

1  See  Maclay's  History  of  the  United  States  Navy,  vol.  i,  pp.  83-85. 


rebels  "  ;  and,  indeed,  the  treatment  they  received 
aboard  the  Yarmouth  on  the  passage  over  led  them 
to  believe  that  the  British  officers  intended  to  cheat 
the  gallows  of  their  prey  by  causing  the  prisoners 
to  die  before  reaching  port.  On  coming  aboard  the 
ship  of  the  line  these  officers  were  stowed  away  in 
the  lower  hold,  next  to  the  keel,  under  five  decks, 
and  many  feet  below  the  water  line.  Here  in  a 
twelve-by-twenty-foot  room  with  upcurving  floor, 
and  only  three  feet  high,  the  seventy-one  men  were 
stowed  for  fifty-three  days  like  so  much  merchandise, 
without  light  or  good  air,  unable  to  stand  upright, 
with  no  means  and  with  no  attempt  made  to  remove 
the  accumulating  filth!  Their  food  was  of  the  poor- 
est quality,  and  was  supplied  in  such  insufficient 
quantities  that  whenever  one  of  the  prisoners  died 
the  survivors  concealed  the  fact  until  the  body  began 
to  putrify  in  order  that  the  dead  man's  allowance 
might  be  added  to  theirs.  The  water  served  them 
for  drink  was  so  thick  with  repulsive  matter  that 
the  prisoners  were  compelled  to  strain  it  between 
set  teeth. 

From  the  time  the  Yarmouth  left  New  York  till 
she  reached  Plymouth,  in  a  most  tempestuous  win- 
ter's passage,  these  men  were  kept  in  this  loathsome 
dungeon.  Eleven  died  in  delirium,  their  wild  ravings 
and  piercing  shrieks  appalling  their  comrades,  and 
giving  them  a  foretaste  of  what  they  themselves 
might  soon  expect.  Not  even  a  surgeon  was  per- 
mitted to  visit  them.  Arriving  at  Plymouth  the  pale, 
emaciated,  festering  men  were  ordered  to  come  on 
deck.  Not  one  obeyed,  for  they  were  unable  to  stand 
upright.  Consequently  they  were  hoisted  up,  the 
ceremony  being  grimly  suggestive  of  the  manner  in 
which  they  had  been  treated — like  merchandise.  And 
what  were  they  to  do,  now  that  they  had  been  placed 
on  deck?  The  light  of  the  sun,  which  they  had 
scarcely  seen  for  fifty-three  days,  fell  upon  their 
weak,  dilated  pupils  with  blinding  force,  their  limbs 


unable  to  uphold  them,  their  frames  wasted  by  dis- 
ease and  want.  Seeking  for  support  they  fell  in  a 
helpless  mass,  one  upon  the  other,  waiting  and  al- 
most hoping  for  the  blow  that  was  to  fall  upon  them 
next.  Captain  Silas  Talbot  was  one  of  these  pris- 

To  send  them  ashore  in  this  condition  was  "  im- 
practicable," so  the  British  officers  said,  and  we 
readily  discover  that  this  "impracticable"  served 
the  further  purpose  of  diverting  the  just  indigna- 
tion of  the  landsf  oik,  which  surely  would  be  aroused 
if  they  saw  such  brutality  practiced  under  St. 
George's  cross.  Waiting,  then,  until  the  captives 
could  at  least  endure  the  light  of  day,  and  could 
walk  without  leaning  on  one  another  or  clutching  at 
every  object  for  support,  the  officers  had  them 
moved  to  Old  Mill  Prison.  Nor  must  it  be  forgotten 
that  these  weak  captives  were  thus  moved  with  a 
"  strong  military  guard  " — certainly  not  to  prevent 
their  escape;  probably  to  guard  against  the  curious 
gaze  of  the  people.  First  they  were  taken  before 
a  certain  tribunal — whether  military  or  civic  the 
prisoners  did  not  know — where  a  number  of  ques- 
tions were  put  to  them,  the  words ." revolt,"  "al- 
legiance," "  rebels,"  predominating,  after  which  they 
were  taken  to  the  prison. 

Mill  Prison  was  a  massive  stone  building  in  the 
center  of  an  extensive  court.  The  court  was  sur- 
rounded by  a  high  wall,  and  twenty  feet  beyond  that 
was  another  wall,  parallel  to  the  first,  completely 
surrounding  it.  The  only  apertures  in  these  walls 
were  a  gate  in  each,  the  inner  one  being  formed  with 
massive  iron  bars  eight  feet  high.  The  outer  gate 
during  the  day  usually  was  left  open  so  as  to  allow 
free  communication  between  the  keepers  and  their 
dwellings  which  were  placed  just  outside  the  outer 
wall.  Between  eight  o'clock  in  the  morning  and 

1  See  page  111. 


sunset  the  prisoners  were  allowed  the  privilege  of 
the  inner  court,  but  at  night  they  were  securely 
locked  in  the  prison  house.  Many  sentinels  were 
stationed  among  the  prisoners  in  the  inner  court 
and  in  the  prison  itself,  besides  the  regular  patrols 
on  the  two  encircling  walls  and  at  the  gates. 

To  the  unfortunate  Americans  who  had  just  ar- 
rived from  the  Yarmouth  this  place  seemed  a  para- 
dise, for  at  Mill  Prison  they  could  at  least  get  light, 
air,  and  exercise.  Yet  even  here  there  were  many 
causes  for  complaint,  for  the  American  prisoners 
seem  to  have  been  picked  out  for  severe  treatment. 
It  was  shown  that  they  were  "  treated  with  less  hu- 
manity than  the  French  and  Spaniards, . . .  they  had 
not  a  sufficient  allowance  of  bread,  and  were  very 
scantily  furnished  with  clothing."1  In  1781  the 
Duke  of  Eichmond  presented  a  memorial  to  the 
House  of  Peers.  "  Several  motions  were  grounded 
on  these  petitions,  but  those  proposed  by  the  lords 
and  gentlemen  in  the  Opposition  were  determined 
in  the  negative;  and  others,  to  exculpate  the  Gov- 
ernment in  this  business,  were  resolved  in  the 
affirmative.  It  appeared  upon  inquiry  that  the 
American  prisoners  were  allowed  half  a  pound  of 
bread  less  per  day  than  the  French  and  Spanish 
prisoners.  But  the  petition  of  the  Americans  pro- 
duced no  alterations  in  their  favor,  and  the  con- 
duct of  the  administration  was  equally  impolitic  and 
illiberal."  2 

Many  attempts  to  escape  were  made  by  the 
Americans  during  the  period  of  their  confinement  in 
Mill  Prison,  and  some  of  them  were  successful.  On 
one  occasion  a  number  of  them  volunteered  to  at- 
tempt escape  through  the  common  sewer  that  emp- 
tied into  the  river.  Several  days  and  nights  were 
spent  in  sawing  the  iron  bars  that  guarded  the  en- 
trance to  the  sewer,  and  when  an  opening  was  made 

1  British  Annual  Register  lor  1781,  p.  153.  •  Ibid. 

1781.  BARNEY'S  PLAN  TO  ESCAPE.  153 

it  was  agreed  that  a  few  of  the  prisoners  should 
endeavor  to  escape  through  it,  and  if  they  did  not 
return  in  a  given  time  it  was  to  be  understood  that 
they  had  been  successful  and  that  others  might  fol- 
low. The  pioneers  in  this  attempt  were  lowered  into 
the  foul  hole,  and  had  waded  several  hundred  feet  in 
the  dark  passage,  when  they  found  a  double  iron 
grating,  which  they  in  vain  endeavored  to  remove. 
They  returned  to  their  companions  more  dead  than 
alive,  and  that  method  of  escape  was  abandoned. 

Barney  soon  came  to  be  suspected  as  a  bold  and 
dangerous  prisoner,  and  at  one  time  was  placed  in 
heavy  double  irons  and  confined  thirty  days  in  a  dark 
dungeon  for  a  "  suspected  "  attempt  to  escape.  This 
solitary  confinement  determined  him  to  effect  his  es- 
cape at  the  earliest  moment  possible.  Realizing  that 
he  was  watched  more  than  any  of  the  other  prison- 
ers, Barney  resorted  to  a  ruse  to  deceive  his  keepers. 

When  the  common  liberty  of  the  yard  was  al- 
lowed the  prisoners,  it  was  their  custom  to  while 
away  their  time  with  athletic  games.  Indulging  in 
a  game  of  leapfrog  with  his  companions  one  day 
Barney  pretended  to  have  sprained  his  ankle,  and 
for  some  time  after  that  walked  about  with  crutches. 
This  seems  to  have  thrown  the  jailers  entirely  off 
their  guard,  and,  indeed,  so  well  was  the  deception 
kept  up  that  only  a  few  of  Barney's  most  intimate 
companions  knew  of  the  trick. 

Among  the  soldiers  who  had  been  detailed  to 
guard  Mill  Prison  at  this  time  was  a  man  who  had 
served  in  the  British  army  in  the  United  States.  It 
seems  that  he  had  received  some  kindness  from  the 
Americans,  and  he  now  delighted  in  showing  civility 
to  the  prisoners  from  that  country.  Barney  soon 
discovered  this,  and  managed  to  hold  several  con- 
versations with  the  soldier,  which  resulted  in  a  warm 
friendship  springing  up  between  them.  On  May  18, 
1781,  it  was  this  soldier's  turn  to  mount  guard  be- 
tween the  two  gates  of  the  inner  and  outer  walls 

154:  &K  ESCAPE  FROM  OLD  MILL  PRISON.  178t 

of  the  prison,  already  described,  his  hours  being 
from  noon  till  two  o'clock.  Some  kind  of  an  under- 
standing had  been  reached  between  them,  and  on 
the  day  mentioned  Barney,  hobbling  about  on  his 
crutches,  gradually  drew  near  the  gate,  and,  ob- 
serving that  no  one  was  near,  he  whispered  inter- 
rogatively through  the  bars,  "  To-day? "  to  which 
the  soldier  replied,  in  a  low  tone,  "  Dinner."  From 
this  answer  Barney  knew  that  one  o'clock  was 
meant,  for  at  that  hour  all  the  jailers  took  dinner, 
leaving  only  the  sentinels  on  guard. 

Hastening  to  his  cell  Barney  put  on  the  undress 
uniform  of  a  British  officer,  which  he  had  secured 
from  the  friendly  sentinel,  and  threw  over  it  his 
greatcoat.  This  coat  he  had  been  wearing  about 
the  prison  since  the  "spraining"  of  his  ankle,  so 
that  he  would  not "  catch  cold."  As  a  matter  of  fact, 
Barney  had  worn  the  coat  so  as  to  accustom  the 
jailers  at  seeing  him  in  it,  for  it  reached  quite  down 
to  his  heels  and  entirely  concealed  any  dress  or 
uniform  that  he  might  choose  to  wear.  Having  made 
this  change,  Barney  stepped  out  of  his  cell,  though 
still  using  his  crutches,  and  sought  the  confidential 
friends  who  were  to  assist  him  in  his  escape.  At 
a  given  signal  these  friends  repaired  to  different 
parts  of  the  yard  and  engaged  the  various  sentinels 
in  conversation  so  that  they  would  not  see  what  was 
going  on  at  the  gates. 

Observing  that  everything  was  ready,  Barney 
cast  aside  his  crutches,  entered  the  court,  and  boldly 
walked  toward  the  gate.  Here  he  exchanged  a 
wink  with  the  English  sentinel,  from  which  he  knew 
that  all  was  right.  Beside  the  gate  stood  a  tall,  mus- 
cular man,  a  prisoner,  an  accomplice  of  Barney's. 
With  the  agility  of  a  cat,  Barney  sprang  upon  this 
man's  shoulders  and  then  over  the  wall.  It  took 
him  but  an  instant  to  whip  off  his  greatcoat  and 
throw  it  over  his  arm,  and  thrusting  four  guineas 
into  the  hand  of  the  friendly  sentinel  he  started 

Barney's  escape  from  Mitt  Prison. 

1781.  FLIGHT  IN  A  FISHING  SMACK.  155 

toward  the  outer  gate,  which,  as  usual,  was  standing 
open.  The  back  of  the  guardian  of  the  outer  gate  was 
turned,  so  that  Barney  passed  through  unchallenged. 
Walking  leisurely  down  the  road  he,  in  a  few  min- 
utes, arrived  at  the  house  of  a  well-known  friend  to 
the  American  cause. 

The  sudden  appearance  of  a  man  dressed  in  the 
uniform  of  a  British  officer  at  the  door  of  this 
house  startled  the  inmates,  which  was  not  lessened 
when  Barney  explained  who  he  was,  for  to  harbor 
an  escaped  prisoner  was  high  treason,  especially 
when  the  American  sentiments  of  that  family  were 
so  well  known  to  the  officials.  Notwithstanding  this, 
the  good  people  consented  to  hide  the  prisoner  for 
the  day.  Contrary  to  their  fears,  no  inquiry  was 
made  for  Barney  that  day,  for  his  absence  had  not  yet 
been  discovered.  With  a  view  of  having  his  escape 
unknown  to  the  prison  officials  as  long  as  possible, 
Barney  had  arranged  with  a  slender  youth  (who  was 
able  to  creep  through  the  window  bars  at  pleas- 
ure) to  drawl  through  the  aperture  so  as  to  an- 
swer to  Barney's  name  in  his  cell  every  day  at 
roll  call.  In  the  evening  Barney  was  taken  to  the 
house  of  his  host's  father,  a  venerable  clergyman 
of  Plymouth,  where  it  was  customary  for  Ameri- 
cans, whether  free  or  in  bondage,  to  resort.  Here 
he  found  two  friends  from  his  native  State,  New 
Jersey,  Colonel  William  Eichardson  and  Dr.  Hind- 
man,  who,  with  their  servant,  had  been  taken  as 
passengers  in  a  merchantman,  and  were  awaiting 
an  opportunity  to  return  to  America. 

Arrangements  were  soon  made  to  purchase  a  fish- 
ing smack,  in  which  they  were  to  make  their  way  to 
France,  where  they  had  a  much  better  chance  to 
secure  passage  to  the  United  States.  A  suitable 
craft  was  secured,  and  the  two  gentlemen,  with  their 
servant,  slept  in  it  that  night.  Among  the  effects 
of  the  servant  Barney  found  a  suit  of  rough  clothes, 
which  he  put  on  over  his  uniform,  as  being  bet- 


ter  adapted  for  carrying  out  the  rdle  of  fisher- 
man he  was  about  to  assume.  Then  with  an  old 
overcoat  tied  around  the  waist,  a  tarpaulin  hat, 
and  a  "  knowing  tie,"  made  with  a .  handkerchief 
around  his  neck,  he  looked  fairly  like  a  fisherman, 
and  at  daybreak  he  joined  his  countrymen  in  the 

No  time  was  lost  in  getting  under  way,  for  at 
any  moment  Barney's  escape  might  be  discovered, 
and  as  the  alarm  would  immediately  be  given  to  Ad- 
miral Digby's  fleet,  which  was  anchored  in  the 
mouth  of  the  river,  the  closest  inspection  would 
be  made  of  every  craft  passing  out.  As  not  one  of 
Barney's  companions  knew  how  to  handle  a  rope, 
all  the  work  of  navigating  the  craft  devolved  upon 
him,  but  as  he  was  a  thorough  seaman  he  soon  had 
the  smack  standing  down  the  river.  With  a  fine 
breeze  and  ebbing  tide  the  adventurers  were  soon 
in  the  midst  of  the  formidable  fleet  of  war  vessels, 
the  frowning  batteries  of  which  yawned  at  them  in 
sullen  silence,  while  the  sentinels  paced  to  and  fro, 
casting  unsuspicious  glances  at  the  innocent-look- 
ing craft.  With  the  fleet  safely  behind  him,  Barney 
boldly  stood  out  to  sea  and  made  for  the  French 
coast.  His  companions  were  more  helpless  now 
even  than  before,  as  they  were  prostrated  by  sea- 
sickness, so  that  the  entire  safety  of  the  party  was  in 
the  hands  of  the  lieutenant. 

Just  as  the  shores  of  England  began  to  fade, 
and  the  adventurers  were  congratulating  them- 
selves on  their  escape,  a  sail  loomed  up  on  the  hori- 
zon, and  was  soon  made  out  to  be  a  swift-sailing 
vessel  evidently  in  pursuit  of  the  smack.  In  a  few 
minutes  she  had  come  alongside,  and,  after  ordering 
the  craft  to  heave  to,  sent  a  boat  aboard  with  an 
officer.  The  sail  proved  to  be  a  privateer,  out  from 
Guernsey,  and  to  her  officer's  demand  of  what  was 
on  board  the  smack,  and  where  she  was  bound,  Lieu- 
tenant Barney  replied: 


"  I  have  nothing  on  board,  and  am  bound  to  the 
coast  of  France." 

"  Your  business  there?  "  asked  the  officer. 

"  I  can  not  disclose  to  you  my  business; "  and 
untying  the  rope  that  bound  his  greatcoat  around 
him  Barney  showed  his  British  uniform.  The  sight 
of  the  uniform  had  its  desired  effect.  The  priva- 
teersman  instantly  changed  his  commanding  tone 
to  one  of  respect  and  touched  his  hat.  Following 
up  his  advantage  Barney  said,  in  a  severe  tone: 

"Sir,  I  must  not  be  detained;  my  business  is 
urgent,  and  you  must  suffer  me  to  proceed  or  you 
will,  perhaps,  find  cause  to  regret  it."  To  this  the 
boarding  officer  politely  replied  that  he  would  im- 
mediately go  aboard  and  report  to  his  commander. 
This  he  did,  but  in  a  few  minutes  the  captain  of  the 
privateer  himself  came  aboard,  and,  though  very 
polite,  he  desired  to  know  what  business  could  carry 
a  British  officer  to  the  enemy's  coast: 

"  I  should  be  very  sorry  to  stop  you,  sir,"  he  said, 
"if  you  are  on  public  business;  and  if  this  be  the 
fact  it  must  surely  be  in  your  power  to  give  me 
some  proof  of  it  without  disclosing  the  secrets  of 
Government,  which  I  have  no  desire  to  know." 

Barney  replied  that  to  show  him  such  proofs 
would  be  to  hazard  the  success  of  his  mission,  which 
depended  entirely  on  its  being  kept  absolutely 
secret  from  all  save  those  intrusted  in  its  execution. 

"  Then,  sir,"  replied  the  privateersman,  "  I  shall 
be  under  the  necessity  of  carrying  you  to  England." 

"  Do  as  you  please,"  said  Barney  calmly,  "  but, 
remember,  it  is  at  your  peril.  All  I  have  to  say  fur- 
ther, sir,  is  that  if  you  persist  in  interrupting  my 
voyage  I  must  demand  of  you  to  carry  me  directly 
on  board  Admiral  Digby's  flagship,  at  Plymouth." 

The  American  officer  well  knew  that  this  was 
an  unpleasant  request  for  the  privateersman,  for  if 
he  ventured  in  the  fleet  he  might  expect  to  be  re- 
lieved of  some  of  his  crew  by  the  admiral's  press 

158  AN"  ESCAPE  FBOM  OLD  MILL  PRISON".  1781. 

gangs,  who  were  constantly  on  the  lookout  for 
men.  Barney  hoped  this  would  induce  the  priva- 
teersman  to  let  him  go,  and  in  fact  the  Englishman 
did  hesitate  for  a  few  minutes.  Barney  followed  up 
the  stroke  by  commenting  on  the  fine,  manly  ap- 
pearance of  the  privateer's  crew.  But  all  to  no  pur- 
pose, the  Englishman  deciding  to  take  them  to  Plym- 

All  that  night  the  two  vessels  were  beating  their 
way  back  to  the  English  coast,  and  on  the  following 
morning  entered  a  small  port  about  six  miles  from 
Plymouth.  Here  the  English  commander,  leaving 
Barney  aboard  the  privateer,  went  ashore  to  make 
his  report  to  Admiral  Digby,  and  under  pretense  of 
keeping  out  of  the  way  of  press  gangs  nearly  all  the 
crew  went  ashore  also.  The  few  that  remained 
aboard  treated  Barney  with  the  respect  due  to  his 
assumed  character  and  he  was  allowed  every  lib- 
erty save  that  of  going  ashore.  .Seizing  a  favorable 
opportunity,  when  those  aboard  were  at  dinner, 
Barney  slid  down  a  rope  over  the  stern  and  got  into 
a  boat.  In  doing  this  he  badly  injured  his  leg,  but 
unmindful  of  the  pain  he  rapidly  sculled  ashore  un- 
seen by  any  of  the  privateersmen. 

As  he  approached  the  beach  many  of  the  idlers 
came  to  the  landing  to  watch  him,  but  made  no  at- 
tempt to  interfere.  Boldly  jumping  ashore  he  called 
for  aid  to  haul  his  boat  up.  Several  responded,  when 
Barney  was  startled  by  a  loud  voice  calling  out: 

"  Hollo  there!  Where  did  you  catch  her?  What 
has  she  got  aboard?  " 

Looking  around  Barney  saw  that  he  was  ad- 
dressed by  the  customhouse  officer.  He  soon  satis- 
fied that  important  person  that  he  had  nothing  of 
a  contraband  nature,  and  complaining  of  the  hurt 
on  his  leg — the  blood  now  plainly  oozing  out  from 
his  stocking — he  made  that  an  excuse  for  hurrying 
away  to  get  "  something  onto  it."  Before  leaving, 
however,  he  dispelled  whatever  suspicions  might 

1781.  BACK  IN  PLYMOUTH  AGAIN.  159 

have  been  lingering  in  the  customhouse  officer's  mind 
by  asking: 

"Pray,  sir,  can  you  tell  me  where  our  people 

"  I  think,  sir,  you'll  find  them  all  at  the  Eed  Lion, 
the  very  last  house  in  the  village." 

"  Thank  you,  sir.  I  wish  you  a  very  good  morn- 
ing; "  and  with  that  the  American  walked  off  in  the 
direction  indicated. 

It  was  the  least  of  Barney's  desires  to  meet  any 
of  "  our  people,"  but  he  found  that  there  was  only 
one  street  in  the  village,  so  that  he  was  compelled 
to  pass  the  Eed  Lion.  He  passed  the  tavern  un- 
perceived,  as  he  thought,  but  just  as  he  had  turned 
the  corner  he  heard  a  gruff  voice  calling  after  him: 

"Hollo,  lieutenant!  I'm  glad  you're  come 
ashore.  We  was  jist  some  on  us  to  off  arter  you." 

"  And  what  for,  pray?  "  asked  Barney  with  con- 
siderable uneasiness. 

"  Why,  may  be  as  how  some  on  us  might  ship  if 
we  knowed  a  thing  or  two." 

Barney  saw  at  once  that  his  assumed  disguise 
had  gained  full  credence  among  the  sailors  in  the 
privateers,  and  that  some  of  them  believed,  through 
his  interest,  they  could  get  better  berths  in  Admiral 
Digby's  fleet.  Engaging  the  man  in  conversation, 
and  at  the  same  time  walking  rapidly  away  from 
the  Eed  Lion  so  as  to  get  away  from  the  rest  of 
the  men,  Barney  gave  encouragement  to  the  sea- 
man's idea  of  shipping  in  the  fleet,  when  the  latter 
suddenly  asked: 

"  Where  are  you  going?  " 

"  To  Plymouth.  Come,  you  might  as  well  go  along 
with  me." 

The  tar  hesitated  a  moment,  seemed  to  think 
better  of  his  plan  of  entering  a  navy  noted  for  its 
cruelty  to  seamen,  and  finally  said  he'd  go  back  to 
his  old  shipmates. 

As  soon  as  the  tar  was  out  of  sight,  Barney 


quickened  Ms  pace  into  a  run  lest  he  be  overtaken 
by  others  of  the  crew.  Bealizing,  also,  that  as  soon 
as  the  captain  of  the  privateer  had  explained  his 
capture  to  Admiral  Digby  his  escape  from  the 
prison  would  in  all  probability  be  discovered,  and 
a  guard  be  sent  to  secure  him,  he  deemed  it  advis- 
able to  jump  over  a  hedge  and  seclude  himself  in  a 
private  garden.  This  precaution  was  doubly  neces- 
sary, as  the  highway  on  which  he  was  traveling  was 
the  direct  route  from  Plymouth,  and  the  one  a  guard 
would  take  in  coming  for  him. 

On  leaping  over  the  hedge  he  found  himself  in 
the  superb  private  grounds  of  Lord  Edgecombe. 
Wandering  about  in  search  of  the  servants'  house, 
he  was  discovered  by  the. gardener,  who  was  much 
incensed  by  the  intrusion.  Barney  pacified  him  by 
explaining  that  he  had  injured  his  leg  and  was  seek- 
ing the  shortest  way  to  Plymouth.  Giving  the  gar- 
dener a  tip,  Barney  was  conducted  to  a  private  gate 
opening  on  the  river,  and  hailing  a  butcher  who 
was  going  by  in  a  small  wherry  with  two  sheep  to 
market  our  adventurer  got  aboard.  By  this  means 
Barney  avoided  the  necessity  of  crossing  the  river 
by  the  public  ferry,  and  also  that  of  passing  by  Mill 
Prison  and  of  a  chance  of  meeting  the  guard. 

Immediately  on  receiving  the  report  of  the  priva- 
teer's commander,  Admiral  Digby  caused  an  inquiry 
to  be  made  in  all  the  prisons  and  places  of  confine- 
ment in  or  near  Plymouth,  and  at  the  time  Barney 
was  sliding  down  the  rope  over  the  privateer's  stern 
to  get  into  a  boat  his  escape  from  Mill  Prison  was 
discovered;  and  at  the  moment  he  passed  through 
Lord  Edgecombe's  private  gate  to  the  riverside  the 
tramp  of  the  soldiers — all  of  whom  were  familiar 
with  Barney— was  heard  passing  the  very  hedge  he 
had  just  vaulted  over  on  their  way  to  take  him  back 
to  prison. 

That  night  Barney  gained  the  house  of  the  ven- 
erable clergyman  that  he  had  left  only  the  morn- 

1781.  PASSING  THE  SENTRY.  161 

ing  before.  The  same  evening  Colonel  Kichardson 
and  Dr.  Hindman  arrived  at  this  house  also,  having 
been  released  from  the  privateer  after  the  guard 
from  Mill  Prison  had  inspected  them.  While  these 
fugitives  were  seated  at  supper  laughing  and  jok- 
ing over  their  hapless  adventures,  the  bell  of  the 
town-crier  was  heard  under  the  windows,  and  the 
reward  of  five  guineas  for  the  apprehension  of 
Joshua  Barney,  a  rebel  deserter  from  Mill  Prison, 
was  proclaimed.  For  a  moment  it  was  thought  that 
the  proclamation  was  addressed  to  this  particular 
house,  and  that  a  military  guard  would  follow  to 
search  the  premises;  but  in  a  few  minutes  the  bell 
and  voice  began  to  die  away  in  the  distance,  and 
finally  could  be  heard  no  more. 

Three  days  longer  the  fugitive  remained  in  his 
place  of  concealment,  by  which  time  a  fashionable 
suit  of  clothes  was  procured  for  him  and  a  post 
chaise  was  engaged  to  take  him  to  Exeter.  At  mid- 
night Barney,  accompanied  by  one  of  the  clergy- 
man's sons,  repaired  to  the  secluded  spot  where  the 
vehicle  was  in  waiting,  and  bidding  farewell  to  his 
friends  stepped  in  and  was  rapidly  driven  away. 
Beaching  the  gate  of  the  town  they  were  brought 
to  by  a  stern  "  Halt! "  from  the  sentry.  The  driver 
obeyed,  and  in  a  moment  an  officer  thrust  a  lantern 
into  the  carriage  and  began  reading  aloud  the  exact 
description  of  the  person  and  dress  Barney  had 
worn  in  his  escape  from  the  prison.  Of  course  the 
dress  had  been  changed,  and  Barney  succeeded  so 
well  in  distorting  his  features  that  the  facial  de- 
scription did  not  fit,  so  with  an  apology  the  officer 
allowed  the  post  chaise  to  proceed.  At  Exeter  our 
adventurer  took  the  stage  to  Bristol,  and  from  there 
made  his  way  to  London,  France,  and  Holland. 

In  Holland  Barney  secured  passage  in  the  armed 
ship  South  Carolina,  Captain  Gillon.  We  get  an  in- 
teresting side  light  on  Barney's  ability  as  a  seaman 
from  the  diary  of  John  Trumbull,  the  famous 


painter.  "  The  want  of  funds  or  credit/'  says  Trum- 
bull,  "and  the  dread  of  those  who  had  advanced 
money  on  her  [the  South  Carolina's]  outfit  occa- 
sioned her  officers — after  she  had  been  permitted  to 
drop  down  to  the  Texel — to  run  her  out  of  the  Roads, 
and  to  anchor  outside,  beyond  the  jurisdiction  of 
the  port,  at  a  distance  of  more  than  a  league  from 
land.  Here  several  of  us  passengers  went  on  board, 
and  on  the  12th  of  August  [1781],  soon  after  sun- 
rise, the  wind  began  to  blow  from  the  northwest, 
directly  on  shore,  with  every  appearance  of  a  heavy 
gale.  The  proper  thing  to  have  done  was  to  have 
run  back  into  the  Texel  Roads,  but  that  we  dared 
not  do  lest  the  ship  should  be  seized.  We  dared  not 
run  for  the  English  Channel  lest  we  should  fall  in 
with  British  cruisers  of  superior  force.  The  gale 
soon  increased  to  such  a  degree  that  it  would  have 
been  madness  to  remain  at  anchor  on  such  a  lee 
shore.  The  only  thing  which  could  be  done,  there- 
fore, was  to  lay  the  ship's  head  to  the  northeast  and 
carry  sail.  A  fog  soon  came  on,  so  thick  that  we 
could  hardly  see  from  stem  to  stern;  the  gale  in- 
creased to  a  very  hurricane,  and  soon  brought  us  to 
close-reefed  topsails;  the  coast  of  Holland  was 
under  our  lee,  and  we  knew  that  we  were  running 
upon  the  very  edge  of  the  sands,  which  extended  so 
far  from  the  shore  that  if  the  ship  should  touch 
she  must  go  to  pieces  before  we  could  even  see  the 
land  and  all  hands  must  perish.  We  passed  the 
morning  in  the  deepest  anxiety;  in  the  afternoon 
we  discovered  that  we  had  started  several  of  the 
bolts  of  the  weather  main  chain  plates.  This  forced 
us  to  take  in  our  close-reefed  topsails,  as  the  masts 
would  no  longer  bear  the  strain  of  any  sail  aloft,  and 
we  were  obliged  to  rely  upon  a  reefed  foresail.  By 
this  time  we  knew  that  we  must  be  not  far  from 
Heligoland,  at  the  mouth  of  the  Elbe,  where  the 
coast  begins  to  trend  northward,  which  increased 
the  danger.  At  ten  o'clock  at  night  a  squall  struck 

1781.          BABNEY  SAVES  THE  SOUTH  CAROLINA.  163 

us,  heavier  than  the  gale,  and  threw  our  only  sail 
aback;  the  ship  became  unmanageable,  the  officers 
lost  their  self-possession,  and  the  crew  all  confi- 
dence in  them,  while  for  a  few  minutes  all  was  con- 
fusion and  dismay.  Happily  for  us,  Commodore 
Barney  was  among  the  passengers — he  had  just 
escaped  from  Mill  Prison,  in  England.  Hearing  the 
increased  tumult  aloft,  and  feeling  the  ungoverned 
motion  of  the  ship,  he  flew  upon  deck,  saw  the  dan- 
ger, assumed  command,  the  men  obeyed,  and  he 
soon  had  her  again  under  control.  It  was  found 
that  with  the  squall  the  wind  had  shifted  several 
points,  so  that  on  the  other  tack  we  could  lay  a  safe 
course  to  the  westward,  and  thus  relieve  our  main- 
mast. That  our  danger  was  imminent  no  one  will 
doubt  when  informed  that  on  the  following  morn- 
ing the  shore  of  the  Texel  Island  was  covered  with 
the  wreck  of  ships  which  were  afterward  ascer- 
tained to  have  been  Swedish;  among  them  was  a 
ship  of  seventy-four  guns,  convoying  twelve  mer- 
chantmen— all  were  wrecked  and  every  soul  on 
board'  perished.  The  figurehead  of  the  ship  of  war, 
a  yellow  lion,  the  same  as  ours,  was  found  upon  the 
shore,  and  gave  sad  cause  to  our  friends  for  believ- 
ing, for  some  tiine,  that  the  South  Carolina  had  per- 

When  the  gale  subsided  the  South  Carolina  made 
the  Orkneys,  and  when  off  Faroe  encountered  an- 
other terrific  gale,  which,  together  with  a  deficiency 
of  provisions,  induced  Gillon  to  run  into  OoruSa, 
Spain.  "There,"  continues  Trumbull,  "we  found 
the  Cicero  [Captain  Hill],  a  fine  letter-of -marque 
ship  of  twenty  guns  and  one  hundred  and  twenty 
men,  belonging  to  the  house  of  Cabot,  in  Beverly, 
Massachusetts.  [On  her  outward  passage  this  pri- 
vateer had  made  several  valuable  prizes,  which  were 
disposed  of  in  Spain.]  She  was  to  sail  immediately 
for  Bilboa,  there  to  take  a  cargo  on  board  which 
was  lying  ready  for  her,  and  to  sail  to  America.  Sev- 

164:  AN  ESCAPE  FROM  OLD  MILL  PRISON.  1781. 

eral  of  us — among  whom  were  Major  Jackson,  who 
had  been  secretary  to  Colonel  John  Laurens  in  his 
late  mission  to  France,  Captain  Barney,  Mr.  Brom- 
fleld,  and  Charles  Adams — tired  of  the  management 
of  the  South  Carolina,  endeavored  to  get  a  passage  to 
Bilboa  on  board  of  this  ship,  and  were  permitted 
to  go  on  board  their  [the  Cicero's]  prize,  a  fine  Brit- 
ish Lisbon  packet.  The  usnal  time  required  to  run 
from  Coruna  to  Bilboa  was  two  to  three  days.  We 
were  again  unfortunate;  the  wind  being  east,  dead 
ahead,  we  were  twenty-one  days  in  making  the  pas- 
sage. ...  At  the  end  of  eighteen  days  we  fell  in 
with  a  little  fleet  of  Spanish  coasters  and  fishermen, 
running  to  the  westward  before  the  wind,  who  told 
us  that  when  off  the  bar  of  Bilboa  they  had  seen 
a  ship  and  two  brigs,  which  they  believed  to  be  Brit- 
ish cruisers,  and  cautioned  us  to  keep  a  good  look- 
out. Captain  Hill  immediately  hailed  his  prize,  a 
ship  of  sixteen  guns,  and  a  fine  brig  of  sixteen  guns, 
which  was  also  in  company,  and  directed  them  to 
keep  close  to  him  and  prepare  to  meet  an  enemy. 
At  sunset  we  saw  what  appeared  to  be  the  force 
described,  and  about  midnight  found  we  were  within 
hail.  The  Cicero  ran  close  alongside  of  the  ship  and 
hailed  her  in  English — no  answer;  in  French — no 
answer.  The  men  who  were  at  their  guns,  impa- 
tient of  delay,  did  not  wait  for  orders,  but  poured 
in  her  a  broadside;  the  hostile  squadron — as  we  sup- 
posed them— separated  and  made  all  sail  in  differ- 
ent directions,  when  a  boat  from  the  large  ship  came 
alongside  with  her  captain,  a  Spaniard,  who  in- 
formed us  that  they  were  Spanish  vessels  from  St. 
Sebastian,  bound  for  the  West  Indies;  that  his  ship 
was  very  much  cut  in  her  rigging,  but  happily  no 
lives  lost.  He  had  mistaken  us  for  British  vessels 
and  was  delighted  to  find  his  mistake.  We  apolo- 
gized for  ours,  offered  assistance,  etc.,  and  we  parted 
most  amicably.  Soon  after  we  entered  the  river  of 
Bilboa  and  ran  up  to  Porto  Galette.  The  disabled, 


[Spanish]  ship,  with  her  comrades,  put  into  Coruna, 
where  it  was  found  that  one  of  our  9-pound  shot  had 
wounded  the  mainmast  of  our  antagonist  so  severe- 
ly that  it  was  necessary  to  take  it — the  mast — out 
and  put  in  a  new  one.  This  was  not  the  work  of  a 
day,  and  her  consorts  were  detained  until  their  flag- 
ship was  ready.  Meantime  we  had  almost  com- 
pleted taking  in  our  cargo  at  Bilboa,  when  a  mes- 
senger from  Madrid  arrived  with  orders  to  unhang 
the  rudders  of  all  American  ships  in  the  port  until 
the  bill  for  repairs  of  the  wounded  ship,  demurrage 
of  her  consorts,  etc.,  were  paid." 

When  the  Cicero  finally  got  away  she  made 
directly  for  America,  and,  after  narrowly  escaping 
shipwreck  on  Cape  Ann,  gained  the  port  of  Beverly, 
"where  we  found,"  continues  Trumbull,  "eleven 
other  ships,  all  larger  and  finer  than  the  Cicero — all 
belonging  to  the  same  owners,  the  brothers  Cabot — 
laid  up  for  the  winter.  Yet  such  are  the  vicissitudes 
of  war  and  the  elements  that  before  the  close  of 
the  year  they  were  all  lost  by  capture  or  wreck,  and 
the  house  of  Cabot  had  not  a  single  ship  afloat  upon 
the  ocean."  At  Beverly  Lieutenant  Barney  received 
an  offer  from  the  Messrs.  Cabot  to  command  a  fine 
privateer  ship  of  twenty  guns,  but  he  declined.  At 
Boston  he  met  several  of  his  fellow-prisoners  who 
also  had  effected  their  escape  from  Mill  Prison. 
After  this  Barney  proceeded  to  Philadelphia  and  as- 
sumed command  of  the  Hyder  Ally,  in  which  he 
fought  one  of  the  most  remarkable  battles  of  the 

Two  years  after  the  miraculous  escape  of  Lieu- 
tenant Barney  from  Mill  Prison  he  again  visited 
Plymouth,  then  as  captain  of  the  United  States 
frigate  General  Washington.  He  took  occasion  to 
give  a  dinner  aboard  his  ship,  at  which  his  friends 
who  aided  in  his  escape,  besides  all  the  British  oflS- 

1  See  chapter  xiv,  Career  of  the  General  Washington. 


cers  in  the  town  and  on  the  station,  attended.  Bar- 
ney learned  that  the  manner  of  his  escape  still  re- 
mained a  mystery  to  the  prison  officials,  and  no  sus- 
picion had  attached  to  those  who  aided  him.  He 
also  visited  the  gardener  who  unconsciously  had 
been  instrumental  in  saving  the  fugitive  from  re- 
capture, and  gave  him  a  purse  of  gold. 



THAT  all  classes  of  society  in  the  North  Ameri- 
can colonies  were  influenced  by  the  "  craze  for  priva- 
teering "  has  been  amply  demonstrated  in  the  fore- 
going pages.  In  the  chapter  on  A  Boy  Privateers- 
man  we  followed  the  adventures  of  a  farmer's  lad, 
in  the  career  of  Silas  Talbot  we  have  seen  how  an 
army  officer  and  a  company  of  soldiers  could  con- 
duct themselves  aboard  a  private  armed  craft,  and 
in  the  extracts  bearing  on  Joshua  Davis  we  have 
discovered  creditable  fighting  capacities  in  a  bar- 
ber's apprentice.  In  the  private  journal  of  Dr.  Solo- 
mon Drowne  we  have  perhaps  one  of  the  most  satis- 
factory accounts  of  a  privateering  cruise  during  the 
Revolution,  and,  being  written  by  a  man  of  educa- 
tion, having  a  keen  eye  to  matters  of  human  interest, 
the  record  is  given  verbatim.  Dr.  Drowne  was  born 
in  Providence,  Rhode  Island,  March  11,  1753,  was 
graduated  from  Brown  University  in  1773,  and  com- 
pleted his  medical  studies  in  the  University  of  Penn- 
sylvania. He  served  in  the  Continental  army  as  sur- 
geon throughout  the  war — excepting  the  seventeen 
days  he  imprudently  ventured  on  the  high  seas — and 
afterward  became  professor  of  botany  in  Brown  Uni- 

This  journal  has  been  preserved  through  the 
efforts  of  two  youthful  "  amateurs  in  the  black  art," 
Henry  Russell  Drowne  and  Charles  L.  Moreau,  who 
printed  the  manuscript  on  private  presses  in  1872. 


168  CRUISE  OF  DR.  SOLOMON  DROWNE.  1780. 

In  a  letter  to  the  Hon.  John  Russell  Bartlett,  of 
Providence,  Rhode  Island,  young  Browne  says:  "  As 
you  are  interested  in  the  black  art,  I  beg  your  ac- 
ceptance of  a  copy  of  Dr.  Drowne's  journal,  in  1780, 
on  the  Hope,  from  the  undersigned,  his  great  grand- 
son. It  was  printed  by  two  boys,  Master  Moreau  and 
myself,  both  novices  in  the  art."  The  original  manu- 
script of  Dr.  Drowne's  journal  was  prepared  for 
these  young  Franklins  by  Henry  Thayer  Drowne, 
brother  of  Dr.  Solomon  Drowne,  together  with  a  few 
explanatory  notes;  and  the  result  is  one  of  the  most 
complete  records  of  a  privateering  cruise  during  the 
war  for  independence. 

"  An  emergency  at  home,"  says  Mr.  H.  T.  Drowne, 
"caused  him  [Dr.  Solomon  Drowne]  to  embark  as 
surgeon  in  the  Hope."  This  privateer  was  a  sloop, 
mounting  seven  guns,  with  a  complement  of  twenty 
men,  under  the  command  of  Captain  J.  Munroe,  and 
was  fitted  out  for  a  cruise  at  Providence,  Rhode 
Island,  in  the  fall  of  1780.  "  Tuesday,  October  3d," 
writes  Dr.  Drowne  in  his  journal,  "  [we]  sailed  from 
Providence  on  board  the  sloop  Hope.  Wind  at  north- 
east, drizzly,  dirty  weather.  Outsailed  Mr.  John 
Brown  [one  of  the  leading  shipowners  in  Rhode 
Island]  in  his  famous  boat.  Put  about  for  Captain 

Munroe  and  take  Mr.  Brown  and  Captain  S 

Smith  on  board,  who  dine  with  us.  Some  time  after 
noon  Captain  Munroe  comes  on  board  and  a  few 
glasses  of  good  wishes,  founded  on  the  Hope,  having 
circled,  Colonel  Nightingale,  etc.,  depart  and  we  pro- 
ceed on  our  course.  Toward  evening  come  to  anchor 
between  Dutch  Island  and  Conanicut  [opposite  New- 
port] to  get  in  readiness  for  the  sea.  [I]  officiate  as 
clerk,  copying  articles,  etc. 

"October  4th. — This  morning  sail  from  Dutch 
Island  harbor.  At  7  A.  M.  pass  the  lighthouse  walls 
on  Beaver  Tail.  Wind  northeast,  hazy  weather.  A 
heavy  sea  from  the  southward.  I  begin  to  be  exces- 
sively seasick,  but  do  not  take  my  station  upon  the 

1780.  A  HEAVY  GALE. 


lee  quarter  till  that  side  is  pretty  well  manned. 
[Evidently  a  large  portion  of  the  Hope's  crew  were 
rendered  helpless  by  this  evil  of  the  sea,  and  we  can 
not  but  admire  the  doughty  doctor  in  holding  out 
so  long  as  he  did.— E.  S.  M.]  This  is  a  sickness  that 
is  indeed  enough  to  depress  the  spirits  even  of  the 

"October  5th.— Fresh  breezes  and  cloudy.  Treble 
reef  mainsail.  Excessive  sickness.  Hove  to.  A 
heavy  sea,  with  squalls  of  rain. 

"  October  6th.— [I]  keep  the  cabin.  Strong  gales 
and  squally;  still  lying  by.  Saw  a  ship  and  made 
sail  from  her,  then  brought  to  again. 

"  October  7th.— Get  the  topmast  down;  balance 
the  mainsail  and  lie  to.  Put  our  guns  in  the  hold,  etc. 
[In  the]  afternoon  the  gale  becomes  violent.  Only 
one  long-practiced  seaman  on  board  who  says  he 
ever  knew  it  more  tempestuous.  Nail  down  our 
hatches  and  secure  everything  in  the  best  manner 
possible.  [We]  have  a  hole  cut  through  the  store- 
room to  open  a  communication  fore  and  aft  below 
the  deck.  The  storm  increases.  Ship  a  sea,  which 
carries  away  some  of  our  crane  irons  [davits].  Get 
our  axes  into  the  cabin,  ready  to  cut  away  the  mast 
should  there  be  occasion.  A  becoming  fortitude  in 
general  predominates  on  board,  though  horror  stalks 
around.  They  who  go  down  to  the  sea  in  ships  do 
indeed  see  the  wonders  of  the  Lord  in  the  deep.  The 
description  of  a  tempest,  translated  by  Boileau  from 
Longinus,  occurs  to  my  mind  with  peculiar  energy: 

*  Comme  Ton  voit  les  flots,  souleves  par  TOrage, 
Fondre  sur  un  Yaisseau  qui  s'oppose  &.  leur  Bage, 
Le  vent  avec  Fureur  dans  les  Voiles  fremit ; 
La  Mer  blanchit  dJ6cume,  et  1'air  au  loin  gemit 
Le  Matelot  trouble,  que  son  Art  abondonne, 
Croit  voir  dans  chaque  Flot  qui  Tenvironne.' 

"  I  like  this  description,  because  there  are  no  tri- 
fling incidents  thrown  in.   'Tis  short  and  energetic — 

170  CRUISE  OF  DR.  SOLOMON  BROWNE.  1780. 

grand  and  forcive,  like  the  storm  itself.  One  now 
can  scarce  refrain  from  envying  the  husbandman 
who,  folded  on  his  bed  of  placid  quiet,  hears  the  wild 
whistle  round  his  steady  mansion,  whilst  our  ears 
are  assailed  by  its  rude  howling  through  the  cord- 
age, our  vessel  tossed  upon  the  foaming  surges. 
Thrice  happy  rural  life,  and  too  happy  country- 
men, did  they  but  know  their  happiness!  [The  fore- 
going outburst  from  Dr.  Browne  leads  us  to  believe 
that  he  must  have  been  very  ill  indeed  at  that  time. 
— E.  S.  M.]  The  gale  moderates,  the  wind  shifts, 
and  the  sea  begins  to  be  appeased.  God  of  Nature! 
Who  that  sees  thy  greatness  on  the  wide,  extended 
ocean  but  must  be  filled  with  adoration,  and  feel  a 
submission  of  heart  to  thy  eternal  orders. 

"October  8th.— Moderate  weather  after  the 
storm.  Get  our  clothes,  etc.,  out  to  dry.  Cloudy  still. 
Our  mariners  wonder  we  came  off  so  well  as  we  did; 
and  indeed  we  escaped  to  admiration,  owing,  in  some 
measure,  to  the  goodness  of  our  vessel  and  the  tak- 
ing every  precaution  previous  to  the  severity  of  the 
gale.  Toward  evening  a  sail  is  seen  from  the  mast- 
head; [we]  set  sail  and  stand  for  her. 

"  October  9th.— Post  nuUla,  Phcelus!  A  beautiful 
morning.  How  cheering  are  the  beams  of  the  sun! 
I  view  him  almost  with  the  sentiments  of  a  Persian. 
Those  surly  billows  that  erewhile  buffeted  us  to  and 
fro,  and  would  suffer  us  no  peace,  are  composed  as 
the  infant  that  has  bawled  itself  to  rest.  A  large 
number  of  whale  of  the  spermaceti  kind  [are]  play- 
ing round  us  this  morning,  and  let  them  sport.  The 
Father  of  the  universe  has  given  them  the  expanded 
ocean  for  the  wide  scene  of  their  happiness.  Noth- 
ing of  said  sail  to  be  seen.  Have  an  observation  for 
the  first  time.  Latitude  38°  ST.  My  variation  chart 
of  no  use  for  want  of  an  azimuth  compass.  [In] 
afternoon  discover  a  ship  standing  to  the  eastward. 

"  October  10th.— No  remarkable  occurrence. 
Latitude  54'. 

1780.  A  £20,000  PRIZE.  171 

"  October  llth. — Whilst  at  dinner  a  sail  is  cried. 
Immediately  give  chase  and  discover  another.  One  a 
sloop,  which  bears  down  upon  us,  the  other  a  brig. 
Make  every  preparation  for  an  engagement,  but  on 
approaching  and  hailing  the  sloop  she  proves  to  be 
the  Randolph,  Captain  Posdick,  from  New  London, 
mounting  eighteen  4-pounders.  The  brig,  with  only 
two  guns,  her  prize  from  England,  taken  at  eight 
o'clock  this  morning.  Captain  Posdick  says  her 
cargo  amounted  to  twenty  thousand  pounds  ster- 

The  learned  doctor  now  apparently  begins  to 
think  better  (or  worse)  of  his  privateering,  for  he 
continues :  "  What  good  and  ill  fortune  were  conse- 
quent on  that  capture!  Hard  for  those  poor  fel- 
lows, their  tedious  voyage  being  just  accomplished, 
thus  to  have  their  brightening  prospect  clouded  in 
a  moment.  If  virtue  is  the  doing  good  to  others,  pri- 
vateering can  not  be  justified  upon  the  principles 
of  virtue,  although  I  know  it  is  not  repugnant  to 
the  'laws  of  nations,'  but  rather  deemed  policy 
among  warring  powers  thus  to  distress  each  other 
regardless  of  the  suffering  individual.  But  however 
agreeable  to  and  supportable  by  the  rights  of  war, 
yet  when  individuals. come  to  thus  despoil  individ- 
uals of  their  property  'tis  hard;  the  cruelty  then  ap- 
pears, however  political."  [Had  Dr.  Drowne  been  a 
delegate  to  the  Peace  Conference  at  The  Hague  in 
1899  he  could  not  have  summed  up  the  arguments 
of  the  American  commissioners  in  favor  of  protec- 
tion of  private  property  on  the  high  seas  better  than 
by  using  these  words. — E.  S.  M.] 

"  October  12th. — Early  this  morning  two  sail  in 
sight,  a  ship  and  a  brig.  Chase  them  chief  of  the 
day  to  no  purpose.  We  conclude  they  sail  well  and 
may  be  bound  to  Philadelphia.  Latitude  39°  6'. 
Soundings  nineteen  fathoms.  Lost  sight  of  the  Ran- 
dolph by  the  chase. 

"October  13th. — A  foggy  morning  and  Scotch 

172  OBUIS1  OF  DR.  SOLOMON  BROWNE.  1780. 

mist.  Clears  away  pleasant.  Latitude  39°  31'.  This 
afternoon  a  sloop  is  discovered  under  the  lee  bow 
standing  before  the  wind.  All  hands  [are]  upon 
deck  preparing  for  the  chase.  [There  is]  but  little 
wind,  so  the  oars  are  to  be  plied.  I  must  go  and  see 
how  we  come  on.  Night  obliges  us  to  give  over  the 

"  October  14th. — A  sail  [is]  seen  from  the  mast- 
head; proves  a  ship.  We  chase.  Catch  a  herring 
hog,  which  makes  us  a  fine  breakfast  and  dinner  for 
the  whole  crew.  Another  sail  heaves  in  sight.  Upon 
a  nearer  approach  the  ship  appears  to  be  of  the  line 
[the  heaviest  class  of  war  ships].  Several  in  sight. 
Toward  evening  signal  guns  heard.  We  take  them 
to  be  men-of-war  standing  in,  northwest  by  west. 
Longitude,  by  reckoning,  73°  30";  latitude  39°  34'; 
twenty-six  fathoms.  A  pleasant  moonlight  evening. 
Spend  it  in  walking  the  quarter-deck. 

"  October  15th. — A  pleasant  day.  See  a  sail  to 
windward/  As  she  rather  approaches  us  we  lie  a- 
hull  for  her.  I  think  it  is  more  agreeable  waiting 
for  them  than  rowing  after  them.  Get  a  fishing  line 
under  way.  Catch  a  hake  and  a  few  dogfish.  It 
being  Sunday,  try  the  efficacy  of  a  clean  shirt,  in 
order  to  be  something  like  folks  ashore.  Give  chase, 
as  the  vessel  comes  down  rather  slow.  On  approach- 
ing discover  her  to  be  a  snow.1  She  hauls  her  wind 
and  stands  from  us.  Sails  very  heavy,  and  Captain 
Munroe  is  sanguine  in  the  belief  we  shall  make  a 
prize  of  her.  Get  everything  in  readiness  to  board 

"There  seems  something  awful  in  the  prepara- 
tion for  an  attack  and  the  immediate  prospect  of  an 
action.  She  hauls  up  her  courses  and  hoists  English 
colors.  I  take  my  station  in  the  cabin,  where  [I]  re- 
main not  long  before  I  hear  the  huzza  on  deck  in 

1  A  vessel  equipped  with  two  masts,  resembling  the  main  and  fore 
masts  of  a  ship,  and  a  third,  small  mast,  just  abaft  the  mainmast, 
carrying  a  trysail 

1780.  •    THE  BURDEN  OF  WEALTH.  173 

consequence  of  her  striking.  Send  our  boat  for  the 
captain  and  his  papers.  She  sailed  from  Kingston, 
Jamaica,  upwards  of  forty  days  since,  in  a  fleet,  and 
was  bound  to  New  York,  Captain  William  Small, 
commander.  She  has  ten  men  on  board  and  four  ex- 
cellent 4-pounders.  Her  cargo  consists  of  one  hun- 
dred and  forty-nine  puncheons,  twenty-three  hogs- 
heads, three  quarter  casks  and  nine  barrels  of  rum, 
and  twenty  hogsheads  of  muscovado  sugar.  [We] 
send  two  prize  masters  and  ten  men  on  board,  get 
the  prisoners  on  board  our  vessel  and  taking  the 
prize  in  tow.  Stand  towards  Egg  Harbor.  We  hard- 
ly know  what  to  do  with  the  prize.  The  wind  shift- 
ing a  little  we  stand  to  the  eastward. 

"  October  16. — Keep  on  eastern  course  to  try  to 
get  her  into  our  harbor,  if  possible.  Now  we  are 
terribly  apprehensive  of  seeing  a  sail.  About  sunset 
a  sail  is  seen  from  the  masthead  which  excites  no 
small  anxiety.  Cast  off  the  snow's  hawser,  etc. 
However,  night  coming  on,  and  seeing  no  more  of 
the  sail,  pursue  our  course.  Sound  forty-two  fath- 
oms of  water. 

"October  17th. — Strong  gales  at  north — north- 
west and  very  cold.  Latitude  40°  30'.  Afternoon, 
moderates  somewhat.  [We]  take  the  old  snow  in 
tow  again.  We  expect  to  bring  up  somewhere  in  the 
neighborhood  of  Martha's  Vineyard.  A  squall  with 
hail  and  snow  comes  up  which  splits  the  snow's 
jib  to  pieces.  A  little  bird  came  on  board,  rendered 
quite  tame  by  its  long,  hazardous  flight.  Amuse 
myself  with  looking  over  a  quarter  waggoner  taken 
out  of  the  snow.  Take  a  drink  of  grog,  made  of 
snow  water.  Very  heavy  squalls  indeed  this  night, 
with  a  rough,  bad  sea.  Obliged  to  cast  off  the  dull 
snow  and  let  her  go  her  pace.  About  forty-two 
fathoms  water.  Sleep  little. 

"  October  18th. — Boisterous  weather  still,  a  tum- 
bling sea  going.  Feel  qualmish.  Latitude  40°  40'. 
The  wind  so  contrary  that  we  make  but  slow  ad- 

174  CRUISE  OF  DR.  SOLOMON  BROWNE.  1780. 

vances  towards  our  desired  haven.  Just  as  I  was 
pleasing  myself  with  the  idea  of  a  speedy  conclusion 
to  this  disagreeable  cruise  a  sail  is  cried,  which  per- 
haps will  protract  it,  if  not  show  us  [New]  York  in 
our  way  home.  The  sail  appears  to  be  a  brig  and 
not  standing  for  us,  as  we  at  first  apprehended.  We 
chase  till  night  prevents-  Lose  sight  of  the  snow. 
Fire  signal  guns,  show  flash  fires  and  a  lantern,  but 
see  no  answer. 

"  October  19th. — The  snow  is  in  sight  again  this 
morning.  Eun  alongside  and  take  her  in  tow  again. 
They  say  they  answered  our  signals,  though  unseen 
by  us.  A  pretty  bird  caught  on  board,  the  Carolina 
redbird.  More  moderate  weather.  Latitude  40°  30". 
At  this  rate,  the  West  Indies  will  bring  us  up  sooner 
than  Martha's  Vineyard  or  Nantucket.  Forty-nine 
fathoms.  Have  our  pistols  hung  up  in  the  cabin, 
to  be  in  readiness  for  the  prisoners  should  they  take 
in  it  into  their  heads  to  rise  upon  the  watch  in  the 

"October  20th. — Thick  weather  and  the  wind 
contrary.  Depth  of  water  seventeen  fathoms.  Sure- 
ly we  must  be  nigh  some  land,  and,  were  it  not  for 
such  weather,  perhaps  [we]  might  see  it.  Latitude 
39°  59".  A  good  southwardly  breeze  last  evening 
shoved  us  up  to  this  latitude.  Here  we  are,  be- 
calmed and  fairly  lost;  for,  whether  we  are  to  the 
eastward  of  Nantucket,  or  between  Martha's  Vine- 
yard or  Block  Island,  or  the  last  and  Montauk  Point l 
[a  little  to  the  southward  of  them  all],  is  a  matter 
in  question  amongst  our  seamen.  About  sunset  I 
go  on  board  the  snow  at  Captain  Small's  request  to 
do  something  for  his  rheumatic  knee  and  see  a  very 
sick  boy.  After  prescribing  for  him,  examining  the 
medicine  box,  giving  directions,  etc.,  return  to  the 

"October  21st. — Very  calm.     Not  a  breath  to 

1  For  map,  see  page  104. 

1780.  JOYOUS  JRETUBN  TO  POET.  175 

ruffle  the  ocean.  How  uneasy  every  one  on  board 
is,  fearing  to  lose  the  prize!  But  if  we  can't  stir 
hence  others  can't  come  here  to  molest  us.  Four- 
teen fathoms  of  water  with  yellowish,  small  gravel 
stones — according  to  some  the  sign  of  No  Man's 
Land,  to  others  Montauk.  I  hope  we  shall  know 
where  we  are  soon.  The  horizon  too  hazy  yet  to 
see  far.  Half  past  ten  o'clock.  At  length  the  agree- 
able  prospect  presents  itself.  Martha's  Vineyard, 
etc.,  full  in  view.  What  an  excellent  landfall!  To 
one  who  was  never  out  of  sight  of  land  a  whole  day 
before  the  seeing  it  again  is  very  pleasing,  though 
after  only  seventeen  days'  deprivation.  It  is  very 
disagreeable  tossing  about  in  so  small  a  vessel  at 
this  season  of  the  year.  Latitude  41°  17'.  A  pilot 
comes  on  board,  and  soon  another,  but  too  late. .  We 
go  in  between  No  Man's  Land  and  Gay  Head,  so 
called  from  its  exhibiting  a  variety  of  colors  when 
the  sun  shines  bright  upon  it — especially  just  after 
a  rain.  Elizabeth  Islands  in  sight  on  the  starboard 
side,  Cuddy  Hunk  the  westmost.  Ten  o'clock  P.  M. 
We  now  have  Sakonnet  Point  astern  [see  map  on 
page  96],  therefore  are  safe.  Pass  up  the  east  side 
of  Rhode  Island.  Our  men  are  in  uncommon  spirits. 
Anchor  about  a  league  up  the  passage. 

"October  22d.  —  Sunday.  Very  foggy.  What 
wind  there  is  [is]  ahead.  Weigh  anchor  and  [get] 
out  oars.  A  fair,  gentle  breeze  springs  from  the 
south.  Pass  through  Bristol  Ferry  way  with  hard 
tugging  about  the  middle  of  the  afternoon.  Come 
to  anchor  in  the  Bay,  but  where  rendered  uncertain 
by  the  fog  having  come  up  again.  About  six  o'clock 
Captain  Munroe  and  I,  with  four  of  the  hands,  set 
off  for  Providence  in  the  boat.  Being  enveloped  in 
an  uncommon  thick  fog,  take  a  compass  and  a  lan- 
tern on  board.  But  proceed  not  far,  the  smallness 
of  the  boat  and  the  inexpertness  of  the  rowers  occa- 
sioning a  motion  agitating  our  compass  beyond  use. 
Therefore  we  are  glad  to  find  the  way  back  to  the 

176  CRUISE  OF  DE.  SOLOMON  DEOWNE.  1780. 

Hope,  which  is  effected  by  their  fixing  lanterns  in  the 
shrouds,  in  consequence  of  our  raising  ours  and 

"  October  23d. — Early  after  breakfast  we  set  off 
again  in  the  boat  with  the  compass,  being  still  sur- 
rounded with  an  excessive  fog.  Eun  ashore  to  the 
eastward  of  Nayatt  Point  and  mistake  it  for  Conimi- 
cut.  However,  arrive  at  Providence  about  eleven 
o'clock,  it  having  cleared  off  very  pleasant.  Thus 
ends  our  short  but  tedious  cruise.  At  sunset  the 
sloop  and  snow  arrive,  firing  thirteen  cannon  each." 



FEW  privateers  in  the  war  for  independence  had 
such  a  remarkable  career  as  the  General  Washington. 
She  was  a  swift-sailing  craft  pierced  for  twenty 
guns,  and  ordinarily  carried  a  complement  of  one 
hundred  and  twenty  men.  In  1780  this  privateer, 
then  commanded  by  Captain  Walker,  had  an  action 
with  a  ship  of  .eighteen  guns  and  a  brig  of  six  guns 
that  lasted  six  hours,  when  the  enemy,  being  satis- 
fled  that  they  could  not  take  her  without  too  much 
sacrifice,  hauled  off,  leaving  the  General  Washington 
with  her  mainmast  gone  by  the  board,  and  having 
four  guns  dismounted,  three  men  killed  and  three 
wounded.  In  the  same  cruise  the  General  Washington 
came  across  a  fleet  of  British  war  vessels,  and  es- 
caped only  by  superior  seamanship  and  her  fine 
running  qualities.  The  General  Washington  soon 
afterward  was  captured  by  Admiral  Arbuthnot's 
squadron.  Her  name  was  changed  to  General  Monk, 
and,  being  refitted,  was  taken  into  the  British  navy 
and  placed  under  the  command  of  Captain  Eodgers. 

Captain  Rodgers  was  an  officer  of  unusual  ability 
and  courage.  He  was  born  at  Lynington  in  1755, 
and  at  an  early  age  shipped  as  a  midshipman  in  the 
frigate  Arethusa,  Captain  Hammond.  The  first  ac- 
tive service  of  young  Eodgers  was  on  the  North 
American  station,  where  he  followed  his  commander 
to  the  44-gun  frigate  Roeluck.  In  March,  1776, 
Eodgers  was  detailed,  with  the  second  lieutenant  of 


178        CAREER  OF  THE  GENERAL  WASHINGTON.  1776-1782. 

the  Roebuck,  to  man  an  armed  tender  of  the  frigate, 
with  orders  to  surprise  the  town  of  Lewes,  within 
the  Capes  of  the  Delaware.  The  tender  succeeded 
in  capturing  a  sloop,  and  Rodgers  was  placed  aboard 
with  several  of  his  men. 

The  British  prize  crew,  however,  proved  untrue 
to  their  colors,  and,  conspiring  with  the  American 
prisoners,  ran  the  sloop  ashore  while  Mr.  Eodgers 
was  asleep  and  made  a  prisoner  of  him.     He  was 
taken  into  the  interior  and  sent  to  Williamsburg, 
Virginia,  and  then  through  Richmond  to  Charlottes- 
ville,  "  where  he  pleasantly  spent  eight  months  with 
other  prisoners.     Their  chief   enjoyment   was   to 
ramble  among  the  woods  and  mountains  and  to 
gather  wild  fruits  and  salads,  with  which  they  would 
regale  themselves  during  the  noontide  heats  on  the 
banks  of  some  sheltered  rivulet."    In  April,  1777, 
the  prisoners  were  marched  to  Alexandria,  from 
which  place  Rodgers  and  several  others  contrived  to 
,  escape,  and  after  an  exhausting  tramp  of  four  hun- 
dred miles  reached  the  Delaware,  where  they  were 
fortunate  enough  to  find  the  Roebuck  and  get  aboard. 
From  this  time  on  Rodgers  was  entirely  engaged 
in  predatory  expeditions  on  the  shores  of  Virginia 
and  Maryland,  and  succeeded  in  cutting  out  several 
armed  vessels.    He  was  in  the  Roebuck  when  she, 
with  other  British  war  ships,  came  up  the  Delaware 
in  August,  1778,  to  bombard  Fort  Mifflin.     After- 
ward he  distinguished  himself  at  the  siege  of  Charles- 
ton.   On  the  fall  of  that  place  Admiral  Arbuthnot 
gave  Rodgers  the  command  of  the  General  Washing- 
ton, then  called  General  Monk.    During  the  two  years 
Rodgers  commanded  this  vessel  he  took  and  assisted 
in  taking  more  than  sixty  vessels,  his  services  in 
connection  with  the  capture  of  the  Trumbull,  Cap- 
tain Nicholson,  having  been  noted*1 

On  the  evening  of  April  7, 1782,  while  the  General 

1  See  Ma-clay's  History  of  the  Navy,  vol.  i,  pp.  142, 148. 


Monk  was  cruising  off  Cape  Henlopen  in  company 
with  the  frigate  Quebec,  Captain  Mason,  the  sails  of 
eight  vessels  were  discovered  lying  at  anchor  in 
Cape  May  Eoads.  Believing  them  to  be  Americans 
waiting  for  an  opportunity  to  get  to  sea,  Captain 
Mason  anchored  his  ships  so  as  to  prevent  the 
Strange  sails  from  getting  to  sea  under  cover  of 
night.  These  vessels  were  merchantmen  under  the 
convoy  of  the  Pennsylvania  merchant  ship  Hyder 
Ally.  At  this  period  of  the  war  it  was  the  custom  of 
the  British  to  fit  out  privateers  in  New  York  and 
send  them  to  cruise  in  the  Chesapeake  and  off  the 
Delaware,  to  capture  merchantmen  passing  in  and 
out.  Many  vessels  were  taken  in  this  way.  Another 
source  of  danger  in  these  waters  was  the  swarm  of 
refugee  boats.  Usually  these  were  light-draught 
vessels  manned  by  Tories  and  other  disaffected 
Americans.  They  concealed  their  craft  in  the  small 
bays  and  creeks,  and  under  cover  of  night  attacked 
unsuspecting  merchantmen. 

The  damage  inflicted  by  these  boats  became  so 
great  that  on  April  9, 1782,  the  Pennsylvania  Legis- 
lature determined  to  equip  a  war  vessel  at  the  ex- 
pense of  the  State — as  Congress,  at  that  time,  was 
unable  to  give  adequate  protection — f  or  the  purpose 
of  cruising  in  these  waters.  Twenty-five  thousand 
pounds  were  appropriated,  and  authority  was  grant- 
ed to  borrow  twenty-five  thousand  pounds  more  if 
necessary,  and  Messrs.  Francis  Gurney,  John  Patton, 
and  William  Allibone  were  appointed  commission- 
ers to  secure  the  necessary  vessels.  The  merchants 
of  Philadelphia,  however,  had  anticipated  this  meas- 
ure, and  on  their  own  responsibility,  in  March,  1782, 
purchased  of  John  Willcocks  the  trading  vessel 
Hyder  Ally.  At  the  time  the  merchants  concluded 
to  take  this  step,  the  Hyder  Ally  dropped  down  the 
river,  outward  bound,  with  a  cargo  of  flour.  As  she 
was  the  only  vessel  in  any  way  suited  for  the  serv- 
ice, she  was  recalled,  her  flour  landed,  and  she  was 

180         CAREER  OF  THE  GENERAL  WASHINGTON.         1782. 

pierced  for  sixteen  6-pounders.  A  complement  of 
one  hundred  and  ten  men  was  shipped  and  the  com- 
mand given  to  Lieutenant  Joshua  Barney,  of  the 
navy.  Barney,  as  we  have  just  noticed,  had  re- 
turned to  the  United  States  after  his  extraordinary 
escape  from  Mill  Prison.  She  sailed  as  convoy  to 
the  merchantmen  alluded  to  early  in  April,  strict 
orders  being  given  to  Barney  to  confine  his  cruising 
ground  within  the  Capes,  as  the  merchants  had  no 
intention  of  protecting  their  commerce  beyond  that 
limit.  The  convoy  had  got  as  far  as  Cape  May  Roads, 
where  it  was  discovered  by  Captain  Mason's  blockad- 
ing force. 

Not  knowing  the  exact  force  of  the  vessels  he 
had  seen  within  the  Eoads,  Captain  Mason  on  the 
following  morning  ordered  Bodgers  to  enter  the 
roads  and  reconnoiter,  and,  in  case  the  vessels  were 
not  too  strong  for  him,  to  attack,  while  the  Quebec 
would  proceed  higher  up,  so  as  to  prevent  them 
from  entering  the  Delaware.  Before  Captain 
Rodgers  could  carry  out  his  instructions,  he  saw 
three  sails  standing  toward  him,  which  were  soon 
made  out  to  be  British  privateers  fitted  out  at  New 
York,  one  of  them  being  the  Fair  American,  a  ship  of 
fourteen  guns,  which  had  been  taken  from  the  colo- 
nists. This  privateer  had  been  one  of  the  squadron 
under  the  orders  of  Captain  Biddle,  of  the  Randolph, 
when  that  unfortunate  vessel  was  blown  up  by  the 

Captain  Bodgers  communicated  his  design  to  the 
commanders  of  the  privateers,  and  asked  for  their 
support.  The  captain  of  the  Fair  American  promised 
to  co-operate,  but  the  other  two  held  aloof,  prefer- 
ring to  take  their  chances  in  independent  action. 
The  General  Monk  stood  into  the  Eoads  with  the 
Fair  American,  and  about  noon  rounded  Cape  May 
Point.  This  discovered  them  to  the  convoy,  and  sig- 
naling the  merchantmen  to  make  sail  up  the  bay 
Lieutenant  Barney  maneuvered  so  as  to  cover  their 

1782.  A  STRATAGEM.  181 

retreat.  Both  the  English  vessels  made  straight 
for  the  convoy.  The  Fair  American  in  passing  the 
Hyder  Ally  gave  her  a  broadside,  to  which  the  Ameri- 
cans made  no  reply,  and  then  hastened  on  in  chase  of 
the  fleeing  traders.  One  of  these,  a  ship,  surren- 
dered at  the  first  summons;  another,  the  only  armed 
vessel,  aside  from  the  Hyder  Ally,  in  the  convoy,  ran 
ashore  and  was  deserted  by  her  crew,  who  escaped 
over  the  jib  boom,  while  a  brig  and  two  ships  en- 
deavored to  enter  Morris  Eiver,  and  in  the  effort  to 
cut  them  off  the  Fair  American  ran  aground. 

This  left  the  Eyder  Ally  and  the  General  Monk 
alone  to  dispute  the  supremacy  of  the  Eoads.  Cap- 
tain Eodgers  made  for  the  Hyder  Ally  with  the  inten- 
tion of  discharging  his  broadside  at  close  quarters, 
and  then  boarding  in  the  smoke.  When  within  pistol 
shot  the  Americans  poured  in  their  broadside,  and 
perceiving  that  it  was  the  enemy's  programme  to 
board  Barney  instructed  his  men  at  the  wheel  to 
execute  the  next  order  "  by  the  rule  of  contrary." 
Just  as  the  ships  were  about  to  foul,  Barney  called 
out  to  the  helmsmen  in  a  loud  voice,  which  was  in- 
tended to  be  heard  aboard  the  enemy's  ship:  "  Hard 
aport  your  helm!  Do  you  want  him  to  run  aboard 
us?  "  The  helmsmen  understood  their  cue,  and  clap- 
ping the  wheel  hard  to  starboard  brought  the  Eng- 
lishman's jib  boom  afoul  of  the  Hyder  Ally's  fore  rig- 
ging, which  exposed  the  General  Monk  to  a  raking 
fire  from  the  entire  American  broadside.  It  took 
but  a  minute  for  the  Americans  to  lash  the  ships 
together,  and  then  they  began  delivering  a  destruc- 
tive, raking  fire,  to  which  the  enemy  was  unable  to 
make  reply  except  with  small  arms. 

The  Englishmen  endeavored  to  board,  but  Lieu- 
tenant Barney  had  made  such  admirable  defense 
against  this  that  they  were  frustrated.  The  enemy 
then  endeavored  to  pick  off  the  Americans  with  their 
small  arms,  and  a  lively,  rattling  fire  of  musketry 
was  the  consequence.  Many  of  the  marines  in  the 

182         CAREEB  OF  THE  GENERAL  WASHINGTON'.         1782. 

Ryder  Ally  were  thoroughbred  "  backwoodsmen,"  to 
whom  the  use  of  firearms  was  as  natural  as  walking. 
One  of  these  men,  a  Buck  County  rifleman,  particu- 
larly attracted  the  attention  of  Captain  Barney.  In 
the  hottest  of  the  fight,  when  both  sides  were  mak- 
ing every  exertion  to  gain  the  victory,  this  man  sev- 
eral times  asked  his  commander,  "Who  made  this 
gun  I'm  using?"  Such  a  seemingly  useless  ques- 
tion in  the  heat  of  battle,  as  might  be  expected, 
drew  a  rough  answer  from  the  captain.  But  Barney 
knew  the  man  had  never  been  on  a  ship  before,  and 
that  fact  prevented  severer  treatment  for  his  breach 
of  marine  etiquette.  The  man,  however,  was  not 
idle.  The  coolness  and  deliberation  with  which  he 
fired  showed  that  he  was  not  in  the  least  excited, 
and  seemed  as  much  pleased  as  if  he  were  engaging 
in  some  harmless  pastime.  Asking  the  question  for 
the  third  time,  Captain  Barney 'sharply  inquired  why 
he  wanted  to  know.  "W-a-a-1,"  replied  the  man, 
with  the  drawl  peculiar  to  the  mountaineers,  "  this 
'ere  bit  o'  iron  is  jes'  tie  best  smoothbore  I  ever  fired 
in  my  life." 

A  few  minutes  after  this  another  Buck  Oounty 
"marine,"  who  was  equally  ignorant  of  nautical 
etiquette,  with  the  familiarity  of  a  backwoodsman 
called  out  to  Barney:  "Say,  Cap,  do  you  see  that 
fellow  with  the  white  hat?  "  and  firing  as  he  spoke 
Captain  Barney  looked  in  the  direction  indicated, 
and  saw  a  man  with  a  white  hat  on  the  enemy's 
deck  jump  at  least  three  feet  and  fall  to  rise  no 
more.  "  Cap,"  again  called  out  the  marksman, 
"  that's  the  third  fellow  I've  made  hop."  After  the 
battle  was  over  the  Americans  found  that  every  one 
of  the  Englishmen  who  had  been  killed  or  wounded 
by  small  arms  had  been  struck  either  in  the  head  or 

During  the  heat  of  the  action  Captain  Barney, 
in  order  that  he  might  get  a  better  view  of  the 
battle,  stood  on  the  binnacle  on  the  quarter-deck, 

.1782.  BARNEY'S  NAUROW  ESCAPE.  183 

where  lie  presented  an  excellent  target  for  the 
enemy's  sharpshooters — as  he  soon  found  out  One 
ball  from  the  enemy's  tops  passed  through  his  hat, 
just  grazing  the  crown  of  his  head,  while  another 
tore  off  a  part  of  the  skirt  of  his  coat.  Objecting  to 
this  treatment,  he  called  out  to  his  marine  officer, 
Mr.  Scull,  to  direct  the  fire  of  his  men  at  the  enemy's 
tops  and  it  was  obeyed,  and  with  such  effect  that 
every  shot  brought  down  its  man,  so  that  in  a  few 
minutes  the  tops  were  cleared. 

At  the  opening  of  the  battle,  just  as  Captain 
Barney  had  taken  his  station  on  the  binnacle,  he  ob- 
served one  of  his  officers  with  the  cook's  axe  up- 
lifted in  his  hand,  about  to  strike  one  of  his  own 
men  who  had  deserted  his  gun  and  was  skulking 
behind  the  mainmast.  At  this  moment  a  round  shot 
hit  the  binnacle  on  which  Barney  was  standing  and 
threw  him  to  the  deck.  Supposing  that  his  com- 
mander was  hurt,  the  officer  threw  down  the  axe 
and  ran  to  Barney's  assistance,  but  the  commander 
quickly  regained  his  feet,  uninjured,  whereupon  the 
officer  deliberately  picked  up  the  axe  and  again 
sought  the  skulker.  By  this  time,  however,  the  fel- 
low had  got  over  his  "  first  scare,"  and  was  found  at 
his  gun,  where  he  fought  courageously  to  the  close 
of  the  battle. 

A  brother-in-law  of  Captain  Barney,  Joseph  Bed- 
ford, was  serving  in  the  Hyder  Ally  at  this  time 
as  a  volunteer  and  behaved  with  marked  gallantry. 
He  was  stationed  in  the  maintop,  and  was  wounded 
by  a  musket  ball  in  the  groin,  but  so  interested  was 
he  in  the  strife  that  he  did  not  discover  his  hurt 
until  after  the  action,  when  he  descended  to  the  deck 
and  fell  exhausted  from  loss  of  blood. 

Captain  Bodgers  made  heroic  attempts  to  extri- 
cate his  ship  from  her  unlucky  position,  but  the 
Americans  seemed  to  anticipate  every  move.  They 
cut  his  shrouds  and  running  rigging  so  that  he  could 
not  handle  the  sails.  After  the  battle  had  lasted 

18-4         CAREER  OF  THE  GENERAL  WASHINGTON.         1782. 

twenty  minutes  nearly  half  the  British  had  been 
slain  or  injured.  Their  decks  were  covered  with  the 
killed  or  wounded,  the  first  lieutenant,  purser,  sur- 
geon, boatswain,  gunner — in  fact,  every  officer  in  the 
ship  (excepting  one  midshipman)  was  either  killed  or 
injured.  Captain  Eodgers  himself  had  received  a 
painful  wound  in  the  foot.  Finding  that  the  Quebec 
was  too  far  away  to  render  him  immediate  assist- 
ance, Captain  Eodgers,  thirty  minutes  from  the  time 
the  action  opened,  surrendered,  having  had  twenty 
men  killed  and  thirty-three  wounded.  The  Hyder 
Ally  had  four  killed  and  eleven  wounded. 

When  the  American  first  officer  came  aboard  to 
take  possession  Captain  Eodgers  ordered  one  of  his 
men  to  go  into  his  cabin  and  bring  up  his  fowling 
piece — a  beautiful  silver-mounted  gun — and  in  the 
presence  of  the  boarding  officer  threw  it  overboard, 
remarking:  "This  shall  never  become  the  property 

of  any  d d  rebel!"    Captain  Eodgers,  however, 

forgot  to  destroy  his  book  of  signals,  which  fell  into 
the  hands  of  the  Americans,  and  materially  assisted 
them  in  eluding  the  frigate,  as  will  be  seen. 

Throwing  a  prize  crew  of  thirty-five  men  aboard 
the  General  Honk,  Barney,  without  waiting  even  to 
learn  the  name  of  his  prize,  ordered  her  British 
ensign  to  be  rehoisted,  and  showing  English  colors 
on  the  Hyder  Ally  he  put  up  the  bay  as  if  in  chase 
of  the  merchantmen,  while  the  Hyder  Ally  prepared 
to  cover  the  rear.  The  Fair  American  was  found  to 
be  in  too  shallow  water  to  warrant  an  attack  on 
her,  so  Barney  contented  himself  with  making  sure 
of  his  present  conquest.  Deceived  by  the  flag  on 
the  General  Monk  and  Hyder  Ally9  Captain  Mason 
made  no  great  effort  to  hasten  to  the  scene  of  con- 
flict, as  by  the  aid  of  the  signal  book  Captain  Barney 
was  able  to  answer  his  signals,  so  that  the  merchant- 
men and  two  war  ships  were  able  to  reach  a  place 
of  safety  before  dark. 

A  gentleman  who  visited  the  Hyder  Ally  and  her 


prize  on  their  arrival  describes  the  scene:  "I  ^ 
then  in  Philadelphia,  quite  a  lad,  when  the  acti 
took  place.  Both  ships  arrived  at  the  lower  p* 
of  the  city  with  a  leading  wind,  immediately  afi 
the  action,  bringing  with  them  all  their  killed  a 
wounded.  Attracted  to  the  wharf  by  the  sah 
which  the  Hyder  Ally  fired,  of  thirteen  guns,  whi 
was  then  the  custom,  one  for  each  State,  I  saw  t 
two  ships  lying  in  the  stream,  anchored  near  ea 
other.  In  a  short  time,  however,  they  warped  ii 
the  wharf  to  land  their  killed  and  wounded,  and  en 
osity  induced  me,  as  well  as  many  others,  to  go 
board  each  vessel.  .  .  .  The  General  Honk's  dec 
were  in  every  direction  besmeared  with  blood,  c< 
ered  with  the  dead  and  wounded,  and  resembled 
charnel  house.  Several  of  her  bow  ports  we 
knocked  into  one,  a  plain  evidence  of  the  we 
directed  fire  of  the  Hyder  Ally.  The  killed  a 
wounded  were  carried  ashore  in  hammocks. 

"I  was  present  at  a  conversation  which  to 
place  on  the  quarter-deck  of  the  General  Monk  1 
tween  Captain  Barney  and  several  merchants 
Philadelphia.  I  remember  one  of  them  observiD 
'Why,  Captain  Barney,  you  have  been  truly  forl 
nate  in  capturing  this  vessel,  considering  she  is 
far  superior  to  you  in  point  of  size,  guns,  men,  a: 
metal.'  'Yes,  sir/  Barney  replied.  'I  do  consid 
myself  fortunate.  When  we  were  about  to  engaj 
it  was  the  opinion  of  myself,  as  well  as  my  crew,  th 
she  would  blow  us  to  atoms,  but  we  were  determin 
she  should  gain  her  victory  dearly/  One  of  i. 
wounded  British  sailors  observed:  'Yes,  sir.  Ca 
tain  Eodgers  said  to  our  crew,  a  little  before  tl 
action  commenced,  "Now,  my  boys,  we  shall  ha 
the  Yankee  ship  in  five  minutes,"  and  so  we  £ 
thought,  but  here  we  are.' "  For  a  long  time  aft 
the  battle  the  mizzen  staysail  of  the  General  Mo: 
was  exhibited  in  a  sail  loft  in  Philadelphia,  in  whi< 
were  counted  three  hundred  and  sixty-five  shot  hole 

186         CAREER  OF  THE  GENERAL  WASHINGTON.         1782. 

Every  attention  was  shown  to  the  wounded  pris- 
oners, which  was  in  marked  contrast  to  the  barbar- 
ous treatment  Captain  Barney  had  received  aboard 
the  Yarmouth  and  in  Mill  Prison.  Captain  Barney 
personally  attended  to  the  removal  of  the  wounded, 
and  secured  for  Captain  Rodgers  comfortable  quar- 
ters in  the  home  of  a  Quaker  lady,  who  nursed  him 
carefully  until  fully  recovered  from  his  injuries.  For 
two  or  three  years  afterward,  however,  he  was 
obliged  to  use  crutches,  and  it  was  seven  years  be- 
fore he  could  walk  any  considerable  distance.  On 
the  close  of  the  war  Captain  Rodgers  again  served  in 
the  Royal  Navy.  He  assisted  in  the  siege  of  Dun- 
kirk, and  was  active  during  the  whole  war  with 
France.  In  1794  he  was  attached  to  the  British 
fleet  in  the  West  Indies,  and  won  distinction  at  the 
storming  of  the  forts  of  St.  Lucia,  Martinique,  Gua- 
deloupe, and  Cabrit.  In  the  following  year  he  died 
from  yellow  fever,  April  24th,  at  Grenada.  It  is  of 
interest  to  note  in  this  connection  that  the  com- 
manding British  officer  on  this  station  to  whom 
Captain  Rodgers  made  report  of  his  capture  was  Ad- 
miral Digby,  whom  we  remember  as  having  com- 
manded the  British  fleet  off  Plymouth,  England, 
when  Barney  made  his  escape  from  Mill  Prison. 

For  this  truly  brilliant  action  Captain  Barney 
received  a  sword  from  the  State  of  Pennsylvania, 
and  his  prize,  which  was  purchased  by  the  United 
States  under  her  original  name,  General  Washington, 
was  refitted  and  placed  under  his  command.  While 
this  was  being  effected  Captain  Barney  again  went 
down  the  bay  in  the  Hyder  Ally  to  see  what  chance 
there  was  of  getting  his  convoy  to  sea.  In  this  trip 
he  captured  the  refugee  schooner  Hook  'em  Snivey, 
and  brought  her  back  to  Philadelphia. 

We  have  now  followed  the  career  of  the  O-eneral 
Washington  as  an  American  privateer,  as  an  English 
cruiser,  as  the  prize  to  the  merchants  of  Philadel- 
phia, and  now  we  find  her  as  a  United  States  cruiser, 


and,  as  will  be  seen,  for  several  years  the  only  vei 
retained  in  the  service.  On  May  18,  1782,  Oap1 
Barney  sailed  from  Philadelphia  in  the  Gen 
Washington  as  escort  to  a  fleet  of  fifteen  or  sixt 
merchantmen.  On  reaching  the  Capes  it  was  foi 
that  a  powerful  British  blockading  squadron  m 
it  hazardous  to  attempt  getting  to  sea,  upon  wl 
the  traders  returned. 

A  sealed  packet  had  been  given  to  Barney  wi 

he  was  not  to  open  until  "you  get  about  fo 

leagues  to  sea,  keeping  as  much  to  the  eastward 

circumstances  will  admit,  always  keeping  the  pac 

slung  with  weights  sufficient  to  sink  it  in  case 

your  falling  in  with  an  enemy  of  superior  force. 

this  matter  we  request  you  will  pay  particular  at 

tion,  as  the  dispatches  are  of  the  utmost  consequent 

When  the  General  Washington  had  reached  the 

sired  distance  from  land  Barney  opened  the  pacl 

which  he  found  to  be  from  Eobert  Morris,  Supei 

tendent   of   Finance   of   the   United   States.     3 

instructions,  in  part,  were:    "You  are  to  proc< 

directly  to  Cape  Frangois,  in  Hispaniola,  and  if  i 

French  and  Spanish  fleets  should  not  be  there  3 

must  proceed  to  the  place  where  they  may  be,  a 

when  you  shall  have  found  them  you  are  to  delr 

to  the  French  and  Spanish  admirals  the  inclo* 

letters.    I  expect  that,  in  consequence  of  these  1 

ters,  a  frigate  will  be  ordered  to  convoy  you 

Havana,  and  thence  to  America.     You  will  go 

Havana,  where  you  will  deliver  the  inclosed  leti 

to  Eobert  Smith,  Esq.,  agent  for  the  United  Stai 

at  that  place.    You  will  also  inform  all  persons  c< 

cerned  in  the  American  trade  that  you  are  bound  i 

such  port  of  the  United  States  as  you  may  be  al 

to  make,  and  you  will  take  on  board  your  ship, 

freight,  any  moneys  which  they  think  proper 

ship,  but  no  goods  or  merchandise  of  any  kii 

For  the  moneys  you  are  to  charge  a  freight  of  t1 

per  cent.,  one  half  of  which  you  shall  have;  t 

188         CAEEEE  OJF  THE  GENEBAL  WASHINGTON.         1782. 

other  is  to  be  applied  toward  the  expense  of  your 

"  If  a  frigate  is  granted  by  the  French  admiral 
to  convoy  yon,  the  captain  of  her  will  be  instructed 
by  the  admiral  to  receive  any  moneys  which  it  may 
be  thought  proper  to  put  on  board  of  him.  I  should 
suppose  that  by  dividing  the  risk,  or  shipping  a  part 
on  board  of  each,  there  will  be  greater  safety  than 
by  putting  all  in  one  bottom.  You  are  to  stay  as 
short  a  time  as  possible  at  Havana,  and  then,  in  com- 
pany with  the  frigate,  make  the  best  of  your  way 
to  some  port  in  the  United  States.  This  port  of 
Baltimore  would  be  the  best,  but  you  must  be  guided 
by  your  own  discretion  on  the  occasion,  together 
with  such  information  as  you  may  be  able  to  pro- 
cure. It  is  not  improbable  that  a  stronger  escort 
than  one  frigate  may  be  granted,  in  which  case  you 
will  find  a  greater  security,  and  a  division  of  the 
money  among  many  will  multiply  the  chances  for 
receiving  it."  Captain  Barney  also  had  an  order 
for  the  commander  of  the  American  frigate  Deane, 
Captain  Samuel  Nicholson,  which  was  thought  to 
be  cruising  somewhere  in  his  course,  to  accompany 
the  General  Washington  as  an  escort.  Nothing,  how- 
ever, was  seen  of  this  frigate  and  Captain  Barney 
shaped  his  course  for  Cape  Francois. 

While  off  Turk's  Island  the  General  Washington  at 
nighttime  overhauled  a  heavily  armed  vessel  which 
acted  in  a  very  suspicious  manner.  When  within 
hailing  distance'  the  usual  questions  were  passed, 
but  they  were  so  unsatisfactory  that  Captain  Bar- 
ney determined  to  inquire  more  closely  into  the 
stranger's  character.  With  this  idea  in  mind  he 
ordered  a  gun  to  be  fired  over  her;  but  the  American 
crew,  standing  at  their  guns  with  lighted  matches, 
expecting  the  order  to  fire  at  any  moment,  mistook 
the  command  and  poured  in  a  broadside.  This  was 
ineffectual,  as  the  stranger,  evidently  disliking  the 
appearance  of  the  cruiser,  had  dropped  astern  and 


was  preparing  to  make  off.  The  Englishman 
came  round  and  managed  to  get  in  a  raking 
which  caused  some  confusion  in  the  cruiser 
hampered  her  maneuvers  for  the  rest  of  the  ac1 

Captain  Barney  was  soon  alongside  the  stran 
and  a  running  fight  followed.  The  enemy,  howe 
availed  herself  of  the  tangled  condition  of  the 
eral  Washington's  rigging  and  got  in  several  ral 
fires.  It  was  soon  found  that  she  was  very  i 
manned,  and  was  armed  with  9-pounders,  so  that 
situation  began  to  get  serious  for  the  Americ 
The  G-eneral  Washington,  it  is  true,  had  9-poun< 
also,  but  they  were  made  so  by  having  bore< 
pounders  to  this  larger  caliber — a  dangerous  exj 
ment — and  on  this  occasion  six  of  the  guns  ^ 
upset  in  the  first  broadside,  being  unable  to  st 
the  9-pounder  charges  of  powder.  It  required  m 
precious  time  to  remount  these  guns. 

As  the  ships  were  about  to  open  fire  Cap1 
Barney  turned  to  one  of  his  passengers,  James 
McOulloch,  and  told  him  he  had  better  go  bel 
where  he  would  be  out  of  danger.    Mr.  McCull 
begged  to  stay  on  deck.    Coolly  walking  over  to 
arms  chest,  he  examined  several  muskets,  lookec 
their  flints,  tried  them  to  his  shoulder,  and  fhu 
selected  one  that  suited  him.    He  then  slung  a  < 
tridge  box  over  his  shoulder,  and  adjusting  a  ha 
kerchief  to  his  head  fired  the  first  musket  shot 
the  enemy.    Throughout  the  whole  of  the  action 
was  conspicuous  for  his  cool  intrepidity.     At  < 
time  his  gun  missed  fire,  upon  which  he  calmly 
on  the  arms  chest,  took  out  a  knife  or  key,  and  af 
bringing  the  flint  to  the  proper  edge  resumed 
"  target  practice,"  as  he  expressed  it.    He  fired  m 
times  than  any  other  man  in  the  ship.    Thirty-t 
years  afterward  Mr.  McCulloch  was  wounded  g 
taken  prisoner  by  the  English  in  the  action  at  No 
Point.    After  peace  was  declared  he  held  the  p< 
tion  of  collector  of  the  port  of  Baltimore.    Two 

190         CARBEB  OP  THE  GENERAL  WASHINGTON.         1782. 

Captain  Barney's  brothers  were  serving  in  the  Gen- 
eral Washington  at  this  time  and  commanded  in  the 

Captain  Barney  realized  that  his  best  place  was 
at  close  quarters,  and  he  ran  his  ship  close  alongside, 
until  the  yards  nearly  interlocked  with  those  of  the 
enemy.  Orders  were  then  given  to  bring  the  ship 
aboard  the  enemy;  but  the  Englishman,  having  the 
full  use  of  his  sails,  kept  away  and  soon  drew  ahead. 
But  still  it  was  known  that  the  enemy  were  seriously 
injured,  and  there  was  every  hope  that  they  would 
soon  surrender,  when  a  9-pound  shot  passed  through 
the  General  Washington's  mainmast,  and  about  the 
same  time  another  shot  struck  the  head  of  her  miz- 
zenmast,  splitting  it  halfway  down  to  the  deck. 
This  compelled  the  Americans  to  sheer  off  if  they 
would  save  their  masts,  and  the  privateer,  as  she 
was  then  known  to  be,  made  her  escape  in  the  night. 
On  the  same  day  the  General  Washington  had  cap- 
tured a  brig  laden  with  rum,  which  was  sent  to  Cape 
Frangois,  where  Captain  Barney  arrived  in  safety. 

It  was  here  learned  that  the  magnificent  French 
fleet  had  been  defeated  by  the  British,  and  that  only 
a  remnant  was  left  at  Cape  Frangois.  One  of  these, 
the  64-gun  ship  of  the  line  Eveilli6,  was  detailed  to 
escort  the  General  Washington  to  Havana,  where 
six  hundred  thousand  dollars  in  specie  were  taken 
aboard,  and  both  vessels  sailed  for  the  United  States. 
Arriving  off  the  Delaware  they  were  chased  by  a 
British  line  of  battle  ship  and  two  frigates,  but  the 
Frenchmen  used  their  stern  chasers  with  such  good 
effect  that  the  leading  frigate  had  her  fore-topmast 
cut  away,  and  as  her  consorts  could  not  come  within 
gunshot  of  the  Frenchmen  and  the  Americans  they 
gained  the  Delaware  in  safety.  Here  the  French 
frigate  took  leave,  and,  seizing  the  first  opportunity, 
made  sail  for  France. 

During  that  night  the  General  Washington  passed 
rapidly  up  the  bay,  and  about  three  o'clock  on  the 


following  morning  she  suddenly  came  upon  a 
of  refugee  boats.  Barney  ran  among  them 
chored,  and,  pouring  in  a  heavy  fire,  sank  one  o 
barges,  with  sixty  men,  captured  several  ot 
recaptured  five  American  vessels  with  thirty 
aboard,  and  dispersed  the  others.  Reaching  I 
delphia  Barney  landed  the  money,  and  in  th< 
lowing  October  he  sailed  for  Europe  with  impo: 
dispatches  to  our  ministers,  who  were  condu< 
negotiations  for  peace.  Early  in  January,  178 
received  a  passport  from  the  king  of  Englan< 
the  "ship  General  Washington,  belonging  to 
United  States  of  North  America/9  and  sailed  € 
for  the  United  States.  As  the  General  Washi 
had  a  large  amount  of .  specie  aboard,  her 
mander  was  instructed  to  avoid  all  British  crui 
in  spite  of  the  passport,  lest  the  money  might  t 
them  to  detain  her.  She  arrived  safely  at  Phil 
phia,  March  12th.  In  the  following  June  the  Ge 
Washington,  then  the  only  United  States  war  v 
in  commission,  again  sailed  to  England,  still  13 
the  command  of  Captain  Barney.  Returning 
this  cruise,  she  was  sold  in  1784. 



IP  further  evidence  is  needed  to  show  the  inti- 
nate  relationship  between  the  United  States  navy 
t,nd  our  early  privateer  service,  we  have  it  in  the 
act  that  of  our  twenty-five  torpedo  boats  bearing 
he  names  of  officers  commanding  in  th,e  navy  of  the 
Jevolution  and  in  the  War  of  1812  fifteen  were 
tamed  after  men  who  at  one  time  commanded  priva- 
eers.  Torpedo  boat  No.  22  bears  the  name  of  one 
f  our  successful  privateersmen,  John  Manly.  Under 
,  resolution  of  Congress,  October  10,  1776,  Manly 
ras  placed  second  on  the  list  of  the  twenty-four 
aptains  in  the  navy,  being  ranked  only  by  James 
Ticholson.  His  first  command  was  the  Massachu- 
etts  State  cruiser  Lee,  in  which  vessel  he  made  one 
f  the  first  important  captures  of  the  war.1  While 
i  command  of  the  Continental  32-gun  frigate  Han- 
wk,  Manly,  in  1777,  took  the  28-gun  British  frigate 
ro#  after  a  severe  action.2 

Owing  to  the  scarcity  of  vessels  in  the  regular 
avy,  Manly,  early  in  1779,  put  to  sea  from  Boston 
3  commander  of  the  16-gun  privateer  Cumberland, 
ut  when  only  a  short  time  out  he  was  captured  by 
le  British  frigate  Pomona-^bj  another  account  the 
hunderer— and  carried  into  Barbadoes,with  his  men, 
here  he  was  imprisoned  and  treated  with  great 
^verity.  Determined  to  regain  his  liberty,  Manly 

lee  Maclay's  History  of  the  Nayy,  voL  i,  pp.  48,  49.    *  Ibid.,  pp.  88-90. 

1779.  THE  JASON  PUTS  TO  SEA. 


managed  to  bribe  the  jailer,  and  getting  out  of  the 
prison  with  his  men  at  night  he  seized  an  English 
Government  tender  and,  placing  her  crew  in  irons, 
reached  the  United  States.  Making  his  way  to  Bos- 
ton, Manly  was  soon  provided  with  another  com- 
mand, the  fine  20-gun  ship  Jason,  manned  by  one  hun- 
dred men.  That  Manly  should  have  found  so  little 
difficulty  in  securing  this  splendid  craft  so  soon 
after  his  loss  of  the  Cumberland,  particularly  at  a 
time  when  desirable  ships  were  scarce,  is  a  sufficient 
commentary  on  his  ability. 

The  Jason  sailed  from  Boston  about  June  25, 1779, 
for  Portsmouth,  New  Hampshire,  where  her  second 
officer,  Mr.  Frost,  had  been  engaged  in  securing  addi- 
tional men  for  her  complement.    Arriving  at  Ports- 
mouth a  day  or  so  after  leaving  Boston,  the  Jason 
took  aboard  Mr.  Frost  and  the  men,  and  then  put 
to  sea  for  a  general  cruise  against  the  enemy.    On 
the  morning  of  the  second  day  out  the  man  at  the 
masthead  reported  two  sails  directly  ahead,  and 
Captain  Manly  ascended  to  the  f  oretop  with  his  glass 
to  discover  their  force  and  character.    On  returning 
to  the  deck  he  told  First  Officer  Thayer  that  he  be- 
lieved the  strangers  to  be  an  American  privateer 
with  a  prize  in  company.    Mr.  Thayer  then  went  for- 
ward, and  after  a  careful  scrutiny  through  the  glass 
came  to  the  conclusion  that  ,one  of  the  vessels  was 
a  frigate  and  the  other  a  brig.    Eunning  closer  to 
them,  so  as  to  clear  up  all  question  as  to  their  charac- 
ter, the  Americans  gradually  became  convinced  that 
the  strangers  were  British  vessels  of  war,  and  on 
Mr.  Thayer's  advice  the  Jason  was  put  about  to  see 
if  the  sails  would  give  chase.    As  soon  as  this  ma- 
neuver was  completed,  the  strangers  promptly  put 
about  in  pursuit,  the  Americans  making  every  effort 
to  recover  the  port  they  had  so  recently  left.    When 
the  privateer  had  reached  the  Isle  of  Shoals,  off  the 
entrance  to  Portsmouth  harbor,  her  pursuers  had 
gained  upon  her  so  as  to  be  within  two  gunshots. 

194  CAPTAIN  JOHN  MANLY.  1779. 

At  this  moment  a  heavy  squall  from  the  west 
struck  the  Jason,  and  in  spite  of  their  utmost  efforts 
the  Americans  saw  their  ship  taken  aback,  thrown 
on  her  beam  ends,  and  their  three  masts  carried 
away.  Relieved  of  the  weight  of  her  masts,  the  pri- 
vateer righted,  by  which  time  the  squall  had  blown 
over,  the  vessels  pursuing  the  privateer  evidently 
having  all  they  could  attend  to  in  standing  under 
the  squall,  for  they  made  way  to  sea  and  were  not 
seen  again.  Captain  Manly  immediately  went  to 
work  clearing  away  the  wreckage  and  repairing 
damages.  When  the  sails  were  got  aboard  it  was 
found  that  one  of  the  crew  had  been  caught  under 
the  fore-topsail  and  drowned. 

The  circumstance  of  Captain  Manly  having  lost 
his  first  private  armed  ship,  the  Cumberland,  at  the 
outset  of  her  cruise,  and  having  the  misfortune  to 
lose  the  masts  of  his  second  ship,  the  Jason,  when 
:>nly  two  days  out,  was  argued  by  the  superstitious 
seamen  as  a  sign  that  he  was  an  unlucky  commander, 
which,  taken  in  connection  with  the  drowning  of  the 
seaman  in  the  wreckage,  led  the  crew  of  the  Jason 
;o  mutiny.  It  is  here  that  we  have  a  good  illustra- 
;ion  of  the  qualities  called  for  in  the  successful  pri- 
rateersman.  The  difficulties  confronting  Captain 
klanly  certainly  were  enough  to  discourage  the  ordi- 
lary  commander.  The  way  he  faced  the  situation 
s  graphically  described  by  one  of  the  crew,  Joshua 
Davis,  a  hairdresser's  apprentice,  of  Boston,  nine- 
;een  years  old,  who  had  left  his  father's  shop  to 
nake  his  maiden  voyage  on  the  ocean. 

Davis  writes:  "We  got  up  jury  masts  and  ran 
n  between  the  Isle  of  Shoals  and  Portsmouth,  where 
>ur  captain  was  determined  to  take  our  masts  in. 
n  a  few  days  Captain  Manly  went  on  shore  to  see 
o  getting  the  masts  on  board.  While  he  was  gone 
*atrick  Cruckshanks,  our  boatswain,  Michael  Wall, 
Boatswain's  mate,  and  John  Graves,  captain  of  the 
orecastle,  went  forward  and  sat  down  on  the  stump 

1779.  MUTINY.  195 

of  the  bowsprit  and  said  they  would  not  step  the 
masts  in  such  a  wild  roadstead  to  endanger  their 
lives,  but  if  the  ship  was  taken  into  the  harbor  they 
would  do  it  with  pleasure.  [This  meant  that  the 
men  would  then  have  a  good  chance  to  desert,  which 
Captain  Manly  was  most  desirous  they  should  not 
do. — E.  S.  M.]  When  Captain  Manly  came  on 
board  he  asked  Mr.  Thayer  why  the  people  were  not 
at  work,  and  was  told  that  they  wished  to  get  into 
the  harbor  first.  The  captain  answered,  <  I'll  harbor 
them!'  and. stepped  up  to  the  sentry  at  the  cabin" 
door,  took  his  cutlass  out  of  his  hand  and  ran  for- 
ward, and  said: 

"  *  Boatswain,  why  do  you  not  go  to  work? ' 
"  He  [the  boatswain]  began  to  tell  him  the  im- 
propriety of  getting  the  masts  in  where  the  ship  then 
was,  when  Captain  Manly  struck  him  with  the  cut- 
lass on  the  cheek  with  such  force  that  his  teeth  were 
to  be  seen  from  the  upper  part  of  his  jaw  to  the 
lower  part  of  his  chin.  He  next  spoke  to  John 
Graves  and  interrogated,  and  was  answered  in  a 
similar  manner,  when  the  captain  struck  him  with 
the  cutlass  on  the  head,  which  cut  him  so  badly  that 
he  was  obliged  to  be  sent  to  the  hospital  with  the 
boatswain.  The  captain  then  called  the  other  to 
come  down  and  to  go  to  work.  Michael  Wall  came 
down  to  him.  The  captain  made  a  stroke  at  him, 
which  missed,  and,  while  the  captain  was  lifting  up 
the  cutlass  to  strike  him  again,  Wall  gave  him  a 
push  against  the  stump  of  the  foremast  and  ran  aft. 
The  captain  made  after  him.  Wall  ran  to  the  main 
hatchway  and  jumped  down  between  the  decks  and 
hurt  himself  very  much.  The  captain  then,  with 
severe  threats,  ordered  the  people  to  go  to  work. 
They  went  to  work  and  stepped  the  masts,  got  the 
topmasts  on  end,  lower  yards  athwart,  the  topsail 
yards  on  the  caps,  topgallant  masts  on  end,  sails 
bent,  running  rigging  rove,  boats  on  booms,  etc.,  and 
all  done  in  thirty-six  hours." 

196  CAPTAIN  JOHN  MANLY.  1779. 

Having  repaired  his  extensive  damages  through 
sheer  force  of  will  power  Captain  Manly  prepared  to 
sail  without  touching  port.  On  the  day  he  was 
ready  the  privateer  Hazard,  of  Boston,  hove  in  sight, 
and  running  down  under  the  Jason's  stern  hailed, 
informed  Captain  Manly  that  she  had  orders  from 
the  General  Court  of  Massachusetts  to  instruct 
every  armed  craft  from  that  State  to  repair  to  the 
Penobscot  "  without  fail."  This  order  was  given  in 
connection  with  the  ill-fated  Penobscot  expedition 
which  Massachusetts  was  at  that  time  undertaking 
against  the  enemy.  Captain  Manly  indicated  his 
readiness  to  obey  the  order;  but  as  soon  as  the  Haz- 
ard was  out  of  sight  he  tripped  anchor  and  stood  to 
sea,  shaping  his  course,  not  toward  the  Penobscot, 
but  toward  Sandy  Hook.  Evidently  Manly  did  not 
relish  the  idea  of  adding  another  to  his  already 
formidable  list  of  disasters. 

When  off  the  harbor  of  New  York  the  Jason 

hove  to,  and  under  easy  stretches  waited  for  a  sail 

to  appear.    On  July  25th  the  sailing  master  went  to 

the  fore-topmast  head  to  take  his  turn.    About  three 

o'clock  in  the  afternoon  he  cried  out,  "  A  sail  on  the 

weather  bow!"  and  shortly  afterward  he  reported  an- 

3ther  sail.    Both  the  strangers  were  soon  made  out 

to  be  brigs.    The  Jason  was  promptly  put  about  in 

pursuit,  but  as  soon  as  the  brigs  made  her  out  they 

spread    every    sail    in    escape.     The    swift-sailing 

American  in  two  hours  had  come  within  two  gun- 

ihots  of  the  brigs,  when  Captain  Manly  sent  his  men 

;o  quarters.     At  this  time  the  strangers  boarded 

ixeir  port  tacks  and,  hoisting  English  colors,  gave 

;he  privateer  a  broadside.    Manly  now  ordered  the 

jailing  master  to  get  his  best  bower  anchor  out  so 

hat  the  bill  of  it  would  hook  into  the  foreshrouds 

>f  the  leading  enemy  when  the  moment  came  to 

ioard.    Having  completed  his  preparations  Manly 

rdered  his  helm  hard  aport,  and  running  alongside 

aught  his  anchor  in  the  enemy's  fore  rigging,  as 

1779.         CAPTURE  OF  TWO  BRITISH  PRIVATEERS.          197 

intended,  and  then  opened  from  every  gun  that 
would  bear.  The  first  shots  from  the  Jason  caused 
great  havoc  aboard  the  stranger,  killing  many  men 
and  wounding  more. 

Observing  that  the  British  crew,  with  the  excep- 
tion of  their  commander,  had  run  below,  Manly 
ordered  Second  Officer  Frost  to  board  and  send  the 
English  commander  to  the  Jason.  This  was  quickly 
done,  when  the  Americans  cut  away  the  enemy's 
fore  rigging  so  as  to  disengage  the  privateer,  and 
the  Jason  was  in  swift  pursuit  of  the  other  English- 
man, who  was  doing  his  best  to  escape.  Getting 
within  gunshot  Manly  gave  the  chase  a  few  shots 
from  his  bow  guns,  which  induced  her  to  heave  to. 
Captain  Manly  ordered  them  to  send  their  boat 
aboard,  and  on  receiving,  in  reply,  "  Our  boat  won't 
swim,"  he  called  out,  "  Then  sink  in  her.  You  shall 
come  on  board  or  I  will  fire  into  you!"  This  an- 
swer had  the  desired  effect,  for  in  a  few  minutes  they 
sent  a  boat  aboard.  The  prizes  were  the  English 
privateers  Hazard,  of  eighteen  guns,  from  Liverpool, 
and  the  Adventurer,  of  the  same  force,  from  Glasgow. 
The  only  man  of  the  Americans  hurt  was  the  sailing" 
master  of  the  Jason — the  one  who  first  discovered 
the  brigs — who  was  struck  in  the  head  by  a  shot.  He 
died  a  few  days  later.  As  soon  as  possible  the  pris- 
oners were  placed  in  irons,  and  after  a  few  days'  sail 
the  three  vessels  arrived  safely  at  Boston. 

Captain  Manly  had  been  in  Boston  only  a  few 
days  when  he  learned  that  a  large  fleet  of  British 
merchantmen  homeward  bound  was  skirting  the 
New  England  coast.  He  hastened  aboard  the  Jason 
and  put  to  sea  with  all  dispatch,  in  hopes  of  falling 
in  with  the  traders.  Early  in  August,  when  the  pri- 
vateer had  been  out  only  a  few  days,  and  by  carry- 
ing a  press  of  sail  had  reached  the  Nantucket 
Shoals,  there  being  a  heavy  fog  at  the  time,  the  man 
at  the  masthead  cried  out,  "  A  sail  ahead  within  one 
cable's  length  [seven  hundred  and  twenty  feet]  of 

198  CAPTAIN  JOHN  MANLY.  1779. 

us! "    The  Jason  ran  under  the  stranger's  stern,  and, 
in  response  to  First  Officer  Thayer's  hail,  was  in- 
formed that  they  were  from  Liverpool,  bound  for 
New  York.     Captain  Manly,  who  had  been  below, 
now  came  on  deck  and  told  Mr.  Thayer  that  he 
would  fire  a  shot  at  her  so  as  to  make  the  vessel 
heave  to.     A  gun  accordingly  was  trained  on  the 
stranger,  but  before  it  could  be  discharged  a  sea- 
man called  out,  "A  sail  to  windward!"  and  almost 
at  the  same  instant  the  man  in  the  foretop  shouted, 
"There  is  a  fleet  bearing  down  upon  us!"    Feeling 
that  it  was  imprudent  to  run  into  a  large  fleet,  which 
undoubtedly  would  have  a  strong  escort,  Captain 
Manly  stood  northward  until  he  judged  himself 
clear.    After  sailing  one  hour  on  this  course  the  fog 
lifted,  revealing  to  the  astonished  Americans  forty 
large  sails,  with  a  heavy  ship  astern  of  them.    This 
last  vessel,  on  making  the  privateer  out,  crowded 
all  sail  as  if  to  escape.    The  Jason  made  after  her 
under  a  press  of  canvas  and  gained  very  fast.    Cap- 
tain Manly,  who  with  Mr.  Thayer  was  closely  watch- 
ing the  chase,  suddenly  discovered  that  the  stranger 
had  drags  out,  which,  notwithstanding  the  large  area 
of  sail  she  was  carrying,  greatly  retarded  her  prog- 
ress through  the  water.    Captain  Manly  instantly 
saw  through  the  trick,  and  remarked  to  Mr.  Thayer: 
"That  ship  has  got  drags  alongside  and  means  to 
trap  us.    We  will  go  about  and  try  them."    Accord- 
ingly the  privateer's  course  was  changed,  upon  which 
the  stranger  immediately  imitated  the  maneuver  and 
made  every  effort  to  overtake  her.    The  Englishman 
—for  there  could  now  be  no  doubt  of  her  nationality 
— soon  proved  that  she  was  a  fast  sailer  and  was 
rapidly  overhauling  the  Jason,  having  come  within 
two  gunshots  of  her,  when,  fortunately   for  the 
Americans,  the  fog  rolled  over  again,  and  by  chang- 
ing his  course  Captain  Manly  eluded  his  crafty  foe. 
Standing  eastward  a  few  days,  after  this  narrow 
escape,  a  sail  to  leeward  was  reported  and  the  Jason 

1779.  AGREEABLE  COMPANY.  19£-> 

crowded  on  all  sail  in  pursuit.  In  two  hours  the 
stranger's  hull  was  visible  from  the  privateer's  deck. 
At  this  juncture  the  man  at  the  main  topmast  head 
reported:  "Two  sails  bearing  down  on  the  ship  we 
are  chasing."  As  it  was  now  dark,  Captain  Manly 
deemed  it  prudent  to  give  over  the  chase  and  to  run 
under  easy  sail  until  the  following  morning.  At 
dawn  he  discovered  two  ships  in  chase  of  the  Jason, 
their  hulls  well  above  the  horizon  and  apparently 
gaining  very  fast.  All  hands  were  sent  to  quarters, 
and  the  guns  on  both  sides  were  manned  preparatory 
to  a  desperate  fight.  Soon  one  of  the  ships  came 
under  the  privateer's  starboard  quarter,  when  the 
man  in  the  maintop  reported  that  he  recognized  the 
ship  as  the  American  frigate  Deane,  and  that  he 
could  make  out  her  commander  as  Captain  James 
Nicholson,  the  man  having  at  one  time  served  in  that 
ship  under  Nicholson.  After  a  careful  scrutiny 
through  the  glass  Captain  Manly  was  satisfied  that  it 
was  Nicholson  and  that  the  frigate  was-  the  Deane, 
a  ship  that  Manly  was  destined  soon  to  command. 
.After  exchanging  hails  Manly  went  aboard  the  Deane. 
The  other  ship  was  the  24-gun  frigate  Boston,  Cap- 
tain Samuel  Tucker.  These  three  vessels  sailed  in 
company  ten  or  twelve  days,  when  the  Jason  parted 
with  them,  giving  and  receiving  a  salute  of  thirteen 

Eunning  eastward,  after  his  separation  from  the 
American  frigates,  "the  ship's  company  had  pork 
served  out  to  them,"  records  one  of  the  Jason's  men. 
"  Thirty-two  pieces  were  hung  over  the  ship's  side  to 
soak  overnight.  The  next  morning  a  man  went  to 
his  rope,  and  on  -pulling  it  up  found  the  rope  bit  and 
the  pork  gone.  Every  man  ran  to  his  rope  and  found 
them  bitten  in  the  same  way.  They  went  aft  and 
looked  over  the  taffrail  and  saw  a  shark  under  the 
stern.  Our  captain  came  on  deck  and  ordered  the 
boatswain  to  bring  him  a  shark  hook.  He  baited 
it  with  three  pounds  of  pork.  The  shark  took  hold 

200  CAPTAIN  Jf HN  MANLY.  1779. 

of  the  bait  and  hooked  himself.  We  made  the  chain 
fast  to  the  main  brace,  and  when  we  got  him  half- 
way up  he  slapped  his  tail  and  stove  in  four  panes  of 
the  cabin  windows.  We  got  a  bit  of  a  rope  round  his 
tail  and  pulled  him  on  board,  and  when  he  found 
himself  on  deck  he  drove  the  man  from  the  helm 
and  broke  two  spokes  of  the  wheel.  The  carpenter 
took  an  axe  and  struck  him  on  the  neck,  which  cut 
his  head  nearly  off,  the  boatswain  tickling  the  shark 
under  the  belly  with  a  handspike  to  keep  his  eyes 
off  the  carpenter.  When  he  had  nearly  bled  to  death 
the  carpenter  gave  him  another  blow,  which  severed 
his  head  from  the  body.  Our  captain  then  ordered 
the  steward  to  give  the  ship's  company  two  casks 
of  butter  and  the  cook  to  prepare  the  shark  for  the 
people's  dinner.  He  was  eleven  and  a  half  feet 

About  eight  days  after  the  adventure  with  the 
shark,  a  sail  ahead  was  reported.  Captain  Manly 
gave  chase,  and  in  six  hours  came  up  with  the 
stranger,  which  proved  to  be  a  British  privateer  from 
Bristol,  England,  for  Barbadoes.  Mr.  Thayer  was 
put  aboard  to  take  possession,  and  sent  back  her 
master  with  four  men  and  two  bags  of  dollars  which 
they  had  just  taken  from  a  Spanish  vessel.  A  prize 
master  and  crew  were  then  placed  aboard  the  ship 
and  carried  her  safely  into  Boston.  The  privateer 
mounted  sixteen  6-pounders,  and  had  a  valuable 
cargo  of  beef,  pork,  cheese,  hats,  etc. 

Continuing  eastward  for  several  days  after  this 
capture  without  sighting  a  sail,  Captain  Manly 
changed  his  course  northwest,  and  in  a  few  days  was 
on  the  Newfoundland  Banks.  While  cruising  in  this 
vicinity  a  sail  was  discovered  bearing  down  on  the 
Jason.  Manly  waited  for  her  to  come  up,  and  on  hail- 
ing learned  that  she  was  a  neutral  from  Martinique, 
and  so  short  of  water  that  her  master  offered  to  give 
a  barrel  of  sugar  or  rum  for  every  barrel  of  water 
the  privateer  could  spare.  Manly  sent  over  four  bar- 

1779.  BATTLE  WITH  A  FRIGATE.  201 

rels  of  the  indispensable  liquid,  and  received  in  re- 
turn two  barrels  of  sugar  and  two  of  rum.  The  mas- 
ter of  the  merchantman  came  aboard  the  Jason. 
"  He  dined  and  supped  with  us  and  went  on  board 
his  vessel  about  ten  o'clock." 

Early  on  the  30th  of  September  a  sail  was  dis- 
covered on  the  starboard  beam.  As  it  was  calm  at 
the  time  Captain  Manly  could  not  chase,  but  about 
eight  o'clock  in  the  morning  a  light  breeze  sprang 
up,  and  the  stranger,  feeling  it  first,  came  toward 
the  privateer  rapidly.  Recognizing  her  to  be  a  ship 
of  force  Captain  Manly  made  sail  from  her,  but  after 
an  all-day  run  the  stranger,  about  eleven  o'clock  At 
night,  managed  to  get  under  the  Jason's  port  quarter. 
On  hailing  she  was  found  to  be  the  British  frigate 
Surprise,1  at  that  time  one  of  the  swiftest  vessels 
in  the  British  navy. 

"What  ship  is  that?"  demanded  the  English- 

"The  United  States  32-gun  frigate  Deane,"  re- 
sponded Captain  Manly. 

"  Heave  to  or  we  will  fire  into  you,"  came  a  voice 
from  the  frigate. 

"Fire  away  and  be  damned.  We  have  got  as 
many  guns  as  you,"  defiantly  answered  Manly.  Upon 
this  the  Surprise  delivered  her  broadside.  Manly 
reserved  his  fire  until  fairly  abreast  of  his  enemy. 
Before  the  Americans  opened  with  their  guns  the 
British  delivered  another  broadside,  which  cut  some 
of  the  privateer's  rigging  and  drove  the  men  out 
of  her  tops.  When  fairly  alongside  of  the  frigate 
Captain  Manly  poured  a  broadside  into  his  opponent 
which  silenced  two  of  the  enemy's  forward  guns. 
The  next  broadside  cut  away  the  Englishman's  main 
topsail  and  drove  her  maintop  men  to  the  deck.  Both 
vessels  now  maintained  a  rapid  fire  until  one  o'clock 
in  the  morning.  By  that  time  the  Jason's  studding 

1  By  another  account  it  was  the  Perseus. 

202  CAPTAIN  JOHN  MANLY.  1779. 

sails  and  booms,  her  canvas,  rigging,  and  yards,  were 
so  injured  as  to  be  unmanageable.  Battle  lanterns 
were  liung  on  nails  along  the  inside  of  the  bulwarks 
between  the  guns  so  as  to  enable  the  gunners  to  see 
how  to  load  and  fire,  but  these  were  constantly 
shaken  down  by  the  concussion  resulting  from  the 
recoil  of  the  guns.  It  was  so  dark  that  the  men  could 
not  handle  the  cannon.  At  this  moment  the  men 
forward  broke  open  the  fore  hatches  and  ran  below, 
refusing  to  fight  against  a  frigate.  Noticing  that 
the  forward  guns  were  silent,  Captain  Manly  sent 
the  sailing  master  to  ascertain  the  cause  of  it,  but 
that  officer  did  not  return.  Manly  then  sent  the  mas- 
ter's mate  on  the  same  errand,  but  he  also  failed  to 

Eealizing  the  hopelessness  of  fighting  a  regular 
man-of-war  and  his  own  mutinous  men  at  the  same 
time,  Captain  Manly  seized  his  trumpet  and  called 
for  quarter;  then  returning  to  the  men  who  had  re- 
mained faithful  to  him  he  ordered  them  into  the 
cabin  to  receiye  their  shares  of  the  prize  money.  The 
two  bags  of  dollars  taken  from  the  British  priva- 
teer a  few  days  before  were  emptied  on  a  table  and 
shared  out  to  the  men  according  to  their  stations. 
"Eight  dollars  were  given  to  me,"  said  the  boy 
Davis,  "  as  my  share.  I  went  on  deck  and  found  the 
ship  reeling  one  way  and  the  other.  The  helms- 
man was  killed  and  no  one  to  take  the  wheel.  The 
rigging,  sails,  yards,  etc.,  were  spread  all  over  the 
deck.  The  wounded  men  were  carried  to  the  cock- 
pit, the  dead  men  lying  on  the  deck  and  no  one  to 
throw  them  overboard.  The  well  men  were  gone 
below  to  get  their  clothes  in  order  to  go  on  board 
the  frigate.  Soon  after  the  frigate's  longboat  came, 
with  their  first  lieutenant  and  about  twenty  sailors 
and  marines,  when  every  man  that  could  be  found 
on  deck  was  drove  into  the  boat.  I  went  down  into 
the  steward's  room  in  order  to  stay  on  board  until 
we  got  into  port.  The  doctor  bad  me  stay  with  him 


and  attend  to  the  wounded.  The  next  night,  about 
twelve  o'clock,  one  of  the  marines  went  into  the  hold 
to  get  some  water.  He  overheard  some  of  our  men 
talking  and  listened  to  them,  and  heard  them  say 
that  at  two  o'clock  they  intended  rising  on  the  men 
on  deck  and  carrying  the  ship  into  Boston.  The 
man  went  on  deck  and  told  his  officer  what  he  had 
heard.  The  officer  took  all  his  men  into  the  cabin 
and  armed  them  with  pistols  and  cutlasses,  and  went 
into  the  hold  and  ordered  every  man  to  come  for- 
ward or  he  would  destroy  them.  They  all,  to  the 
amount  of  thirty-two  men,  came  forward  and  were 
put  in  irons  by  the  feet.  I  was  taken  from  the  doctor 
and  put  in  irons  with  the  rest.  In  the  course  of  ten 
days  we  arrived  at  St.  John's,  Newfoundland,  October 
10th.  We  were  all  taken  out  of  irons  and  ordered 
on  deck  to  be  searched  for  the  money  we  had  shared 
among  us  when,  we  were  taken.  I  took  four  dollars 
out  of  my  pocket  and  hid  them  in  the  linings  of  the 
ship,  in  order  to  save  them  from  the  plunderers.  I 
went  on  deck,  when  they  searched  me  and  took  the 
other  four  dollars  from  me.  I  went  below  again  to 
get  my  money,  but,  alas !  it  was  gone." 

In  this  action  the  Jason  had  eighteen  men  killed 
and  twelve  wounded,  while  the  English  had  seven 
killed  and  a  number  injured.  Arriving  at  St.  John's 
Captain  Manly  was  called  before  Rear- Admiral  Ed- 
wards, of  the  50-gun  ship  Portland,  and  asked  his 
name.  Our  privateersman  replied,  "  John  Manly." 

"Are  you  not  the  same  John  Manly  that  com- 
manded a  privateer  from  Boston  called  the  Colum- 
bia?" [Cumberland]  asked  the  admiral. 

"  Yes,"  said  Captain  Manly. 

"Were  you  not  taken  by  his  majesty's  ship 
Thunderer  [Pomona?]  and  carried  into  Barbadoes?" 
questioned  Admiral  Edwards. 

"  Yes,"  calmly  replied  the  American  commander. 

"  Did  you  not  go  to  the  jail  keeper  and  bribe  him, 
make  your  escape  out  of  jail,  take  a  king's  tender 

CAPTAIN  JOHN  MANLY.  1779-1783, 

by  night,  put  the  men  in  irons,  and  carry  her  into 
Philadelphia?  "  thundered  the  admiral. 

To  these  questions  Manly  made  no  answer,  as  he 
did  not  wish  to  incriminate  the  jail  keeper.  There- 
upon Admiral  Edwards  informed  Manly  that  he  was 
to  be  sent  to  England  in  irons  and  confined  in  Mill 
Prison  to  the  end  of  the  war.  This  threat  was  car- 
ried out  to  the  letter,  excepting  that  in  1782  Manly 
was  exchanged.  Making  his  way  to  France  he 
reached  Boston  and  was  at  once  placed  in  com- 
mand of  the  32-gun  frigate  Deane,  the  same  to  which 
he  had  spoken  while  cruising  in  the  privateer  Jason. 
Getting  to  sea  in  this  favorite  ship  Captain  Manly 
made  for  the  West  Indies,  and  in  the  course  of  thir- 
teen days  took  a  valuable  ship  of  twenty  guns  laden 
with  provisions  for  the  British  army  in  New  York. 
Soon  afterward  he  was  driven  into  Martinique  by  a 
50-gun  ship  and  a  frigate,  where  he  was  blockaded 
until  peace  was  declared. 



SPEAKING  of  the  land  operations  of  the  Ameri- 
cans, Henry  Cabot  Lodge,  in  his  Story  of  the  Bevo- 
lution,  describes  the  last  three  years  of  the  war  as 
the  most  critical  in  our  struggle  for  independence. 
He  says:  "  When  Washington  retreated  through  the 
Jerseys  in  1776  it  looked  as  if  the  end  had  come, 
but  at  least  there  had  been  hard  fighting,  and  the 
end  was  to  be  met,  if  at  all,  in  the  open  field,  with 
arms  in  hand  and  all  the  chances  that  war  and 
action  and  courage  could  give.  Now,  four  years 
later,  the  Eevolution  seemed  to  be  going  down  in 
mere  inaction  through  the  utter  helplessness  of 
what  passed  for  the  central  government.  To  those 
who  looked  beneath  the  surface  the  prospect  was 
profoundly  disheartening.  It  was  a  very  dark  hour, 
perhaps  the  darkest  of  the  whole  war.  ...  In  Octo- 
ber, 1780,  he  [Washington]  wrote:  '  Our  present  dis- 
tresses are  so  great  and  complicated  that  it  is 
scarcely  within  the  powers  of  description  to  give  an 
adequate  idea  of  them.  .  .  .  We  are  without  money, 
without  provisions  and  forage,  except  what  is  taken 
by  impress;  without  clothing,  and  shortly  shall  be, 
in  a  manner,  without  men/  ...  To  young  Laurens, 
going  abroad,  Washington  wrote  that  our  only  hope 
was  in.  financial  aid  from  Europe;  without  it  the 
next  campaign  would  flicker  out  and  the  Eevolu- 
tion die.  Money  and  superiority  of  sea  power,  he 
cried,  were  what  we  must  have.  ...  It  was  Gouver- 


206  CLOSING  YBABS  OF  THE  WAR          1780-1782. 

neur  Morris  who  wrote:  'Finance.  Ah,  my  friend, 
all  that  is  left  of  the  American  Revolution  grounds 
there.' " *  A  careful  study  of  the  situation  at  this 
time  will  show  that  our  privateers  supplied  a  very 
considerable— if  not  a  supremacy  of— sea  power  for 
the  struggling  colonists  toward  the  close  of  the 
Revolution,  and  were  the  means  of  transporting  mu- 
nitions of  war  and  money  across  the  Atlantic. 

The  last  three  years  of  the  war  for  American 
independence  were  marked  by  an  almost  complete 
suspension  of  maritime  activity  on  the  part  of  Con- 
tinental war  ships,  and  a  remarkable  increase  in  the 
number  and  activity  of  our  privateers.  By  the  fall 
of  Charleston,  in  May,  1780,  the  28-gun  frigate  Provi- 
dence, the  28-gun  frigate  Queen  of  France,  the  24-gun 
frigate  Boston,  and  the  18-gun  ship  sloop  Ranger,  of 
Captain  John  Paul  Jones  fame,  were  captured  or 
destroyed.  This  left  the  United  States  with  only  six 
war  craft:  the  32-gun  frigate  Alliance,  the  32-gun 
frigate  Confederacy,  the  32-gun  frigate  Deane,  the 
28-gun  frigate  Trumlull,  the  20-gun  ship  Luc  de 
Laumn,  and  the  18-gun  ship  Saratoga.  Of  these  ves- 
sels, the  Trumbull  was  captured  in  1781,  and  in  1780 
the  Saratoga  put  to  sea  and  was  never  heard  from, 
it  being  supposed  that  she  had  foundered.  The 
Confederacy  was  captured  by  the  enemy  in  1781,  so 
that  only  the  Alliance,  the  Deane,  the  Due  de  Lauzun, 
and  the  General  WasUngton^-ihe  last  captured  from 
the  British  in  1782— were-  left  to  carry  the  flag  of 
the  newborn  nation  on  the  high  seas. 

It  can  readily  be  understood,  therefore,  that  had 
it  not  been  for  our  privateers  the  Stars  and  Stripes 
would  have  been,  for  all  practical  purposes,  com- 
pletely swept  from  the  seas.  It  was  the  astonish- 
ing development  of  this  form  of  maritime  warfare 
that  enabled  the  struggling  colonists  to  hold  their 
own  on  the  ocean.  In  the  year  1780  two  hundred 

1  See  Scribner's  Magazine  for  November,  1898. 

1780-1782.     GREAT  INCREASE  IN  PRIVATEERING.  207 

and  twenty-eight  American  privateers  were  commis- 
sioned, carrying  in  all  three  thousand  four  hundred 
and  twenty  guns;  in  1781  there  were  four  hundred 
and  forty-nine,  with  about  six  thousand  seven  hun- 
dred and  thirty-five  guns;  and  in  1782  three  hundred 
and  twenty-three,  mounting  four  thousand  eight  hun- 
dred and  forty-five  guns.  It  is  very  much  to  be  re- 
gretted that  many  of  the  cruises  and  actions  of  these 
craft  have  not  been  recorded.  A  number  of  battles 
were  fought,  daring  raids  on  the  enemy's  coasts  were 
undertaken,  and  many  heroic  incidents  occurred  that 
might  well  fill  a  volume  of  most  valuable  historical 
reading;  but  as  these  vessels  sailed  merely  in  a  pri- 
vate capacity  most  of  their  logs  were  lost  a  few  years 
after  they  returned  to  port,  and  what  data  have  been 
preserved  are,  as  a  rule,  meager  and  fragmentary. 
Enough,  however,  is  known  to  .show  that  these  pri- 
vate ventures  were  fraught  with  thrilling  incidents, 
and  were  most  important  in  their  bearing  on  the 
results  of  the  war. 

Among  the  first  privateers  to  get  to  sea  in  1780 
was  the  2-gun  schooner  Chance,  Captain  N.  Palmer. 
This  little  vessel  was  manned  by  only  fifteen  men. 
She  was  commissioned  in  Pennsylvania  and  took 
one  vessel,  a  sloop,  as  a  prize. 

The  10-gun  schooner  Hope,  Captain  N.  Goodwin, 
got  to  sea  in  the  same  year  and  made  several  cap- 
tures. Two  years  later,  while  off  the  coast  of  Labra- 
dor, she  was  taken  by  an  English  brig  carrying 
sixteen  guns.  The  Englishmen  took  their  prize  into 
one  of  the  harbors  near  by,  and  while  lying  there 
the  crew  of  the  Hope,  numbering  only  twenty-one 
men,  rose  on  their  captors,  overpowered  the  brig's 
people,  and  carried  her  into  Beverly,  Massachusetts, 
the  home  port  of  the  Hope. 

Almost  as  successful  was  the  12-gun  sloop  Re- 
taliation, Captain  W.  Havens  —  afterward  com- 
manded by  Captain  E.  Hart.  This  vessel  was  com- 
missioned from  Connecticut  in  1780,*  but  it  seems 

208  CLOSING  TEARS  OF  THE  WAR.  1778-1780. 

that  she  had  made  a  cruise  in  the  preceding  year, 
and  while  off  St.  Kitts,  May  14,  1779,  she  was  at- 
tacked by  a  British  armed  cutter  and  a  brig.  The 
enemy  made  several  attempts  to  board,  but  each 
time  were  repulsed  with  heavy  loss.  They  finally 
sheered  off  and  left  the  Retaliation  to  make  the  best 
of  her  way  to  an  American  port. 

About  a  year  after  this,  on  June  12,  1780,  the 
10-gun  sloop  Comet,  Captain  C.  Harris,  of  Pennsyl- 
vania, fell  in  with  a  convoy  of  British  merchantmen 
off  Sandy  Hook,  and  by  adroit  maneuvering  cap- 
tured eight  of  them,  which  were  sent  into  Phila- 
delphia. The  Comet  was  commissioned  in  1778 
and  carried  a  complement  of  fifty  men.  There 
seems  to  be  no  record  of  her  having  made  any  other 

On  the  22d  of  October,  1780,  the  16-gun  priva- 
teer Viper,  Captain  William  Williams,  sailed  from 
Boston,  and  early  in  November  sighted  a  sail  bear- 
ing down  on  her  near  Cape  Hatteras.  Captain  Wil- 
liams at  once  gave  chase,  whereupon  the  stranger 
turned  in  flight.  About  noon  the  two  vessels  were 
within  pistol  shot,  when  the  Americans  showed  their 
colors  and  delivered  a  broadside,  to  which  the  chase 
replied  after  hoisting  English  colors.  A  spirited 
cannonade  followed  for  half  an  hour,  when  the 
Englishman  drew  ahead.  Captain  Williams  then 
ported  his  helm  and  managed  to  deliver  a  raking 
fire.  At  this  time  the  American  commander  received 
a  musket  ball  in  his  breast,  which  caused  his  death 
six  hours  later.  Some  confusion  occurring  in  the 
Viper  at  this  moment,  the  Englishman  made  his 
escape.  Afterward  it  was  learned  that  she  was  the 
16-gun  privateer  Hetty,  of  New  York.  Captain  Wil- 
liams was  the  only  man  injured  in  the  American 
vessel.  The  first  officer  of  the  Viper  now  headed  for 
the  Capes  of  the  Delaware,  intending  to  make  Phila- 
delphia. On  the  following  day  he  captured  the  ship 
Margaret,  laden  with  beef,  pork,  butter,  and  porter, 

1781.  CAPTURES  BY  THE  PILGKIM.  209 

from  South  Carolina  for  New  York,  which  was  car- 
ried safely  into  Philadelphia. 

The  year  1781  opened  with  a  hard-fought  action 
between  the  18-gun  ship  Pilgrim,  Captain  J.  Robin- 
son, of  Massachusetts,  and  the  heavily  armed  British 
ship  Mary,  of  twenty-two  guns.  In  the  year  1779  the 
Pilgrim  had  made  three  prizes  with  valuable  car- 
goes. While  at  sea,  January  5,  1781,  she  fell  in 
with  the  Mary,  which  was  manned  by  eighty-three 
men,  under  the  command  of  Captain  Stewards.  One 
of  the  most  desperate  actions  between  privateers 
in  this  war  resulted.  The  Englishmen  finally  were 
overcome,  but  not  until  their  commander  and  a  num- 
ber of  the  crew  had  been  killed.  The  American  loss 
also  was  very  serious  and  both  vessels  were  badly 

We  get  an  interesting  side  light  on  this  cruise  of 
the  Pilgrim  in  the  account  of  a  seaman  named 
Joshua.  He  says:  "On  the  16th  of  May,  1781,  I 
entered  on  board  of  the  privateer  Esse$,  of  twenty 
guns,  Captain  John  Cathcart,  and  sailed  from  Bos- 
ton on  the  22d  of  the  same  month  to  cruise  off  Cape 
Clear.  On  the  4th  of  June,  about  four  o'clock  in  the 
afternoon,  we  discovered  a  sail  directly  ahead  of 
us.  We  had  to  put  away  until  they  hoisted  their 
colors,  and  when  we  hoisted  we  found  them  to  be 
English.  Our  captain  said  he  would  not  attack  her, 
as  she  appeared  to  be  a  20-gun  coppered  ship  and 
full  of  men,  for  fear  of  spoiling  our  cruise.  She 
chased  us  all  that  night,  and  in  the  morning  we 
found  that  she  had  carried  away  her  main  topmast 
and  gave  over  the  chase.  We  ran  on  for  two  days, 
when  the  man  at  the  masthead  cried  out,  '  A  sail!' 
which  we  stood  for,  when  she  made  a  signal  which 
we  knew  and  returned.  She  came  alongside  of  us 
and  proved  to  be  the  Pilfirim,  Captain  Robinson,  who 
came  on  board  of  us  and  informed  [us]  that  he  had 
taken  five  prizes  out  of  the  Jamaica  fleet.  Captain 
Robinson  being  the  oldest  commander,  ordered  our 

210  CLOSING  YEARS  OF  TEE  WAR.  1781. 

captain  to  follow  him  while  they  cruised  together 
off  the  coast  of  Ireland.  The  next  day  both  gave 
chase  to  a  ship  to  the  leeward  and  came  up  with 
her.  She  proved  to  be  the  privateer  Defense,  of 
eighteen  guns,  out  of  Salem,  and  kept  company  with 
us.  Next  day  we  gave  chase  to  a  brig,  which  we 
found  to  be  from  Barbadoes  for  Cork,  with  invalids, 
very  leaky,  and  all  hands  at  the  pumps;  had  been 
taken  by  the  privateer  Rambler,  from  Salem,  who 
gave  them  a  passport  to  go  on.  The  Pilgrim  boarded 
her  first  and  let  her  proceed.  We  afterward  boarded 
her  and  took  two  6-pounders  and  a  few  sails  from 
them.  Next  morning  a  sail  was  discovered  ahead; 
the  Pilgrim  gave  chase  and  we  followed  her,  the 
Defense  following  us.  About  one  o'clock  another 
sail  was  seen  on  our  larboard  [port]  beam,  to  which 
we  gave  chase,  and  in  two  hours  ran  her  hull  down. 
We  soon  found  that  she  was  too  heavy  for  us,  when 
we  hove  about  and  stood  from  her.  She  gave  chase 
and  came  up  with  us  very  fast,  and  gave  us  a  shot 
which  struck  alongside,  when  our  captain  ordered 
the  quartermaster  to  pull  down  the  colors.  They 
sent  an  officer  on  board,  who  told  our  lieutenant  that 
their  ship  was  the  Queen  Charlotte,  of  thirty-two  12- 
and  9-pounders,  from  London.  We  were  all  sent  on 
board  of  her  and  put  in  irons.  In  the  meantime  the 
Pilgrim  got  up  to  the  ship  we  first  gave  chase  to, 
and  by  her  signal  we  perceived  her  to  be  the  Rambler 
privateer."  Joshua,  with  his  unfortunate  ship- 
mates, was  carried  to  England  and  confined  there 
to  the  close  of  the  war. 

Three  other  private  armed  American  vessels  bore 
the  name  Pilgrim:  One  a  16-gun  brig  with  ninety 
men,  under  Captain  H.  Crary,  from  Connecticut, 
which  in  1782  captured  a  vessel  with  a  cargo  of 
tobacco;  another  a  brig  of  four  guns  and  fourteen 
men,  under  Captain  M.  Strong,  from  Pennsylvania; 
and  the  third  an  8-gun  brig  with  eighteen  men, 
under  Captain  J.  Starr,  from  Virginia. 


In  February,  1781,  the  16-gun  brig  Holker,  Cap- 
tain E.  Kean,  of  Pennsylvania,  fell  in  with  the  Brit- 
ish cutter  Hypocrite,  of  sixteen  guns,  and  after  an 
action  of  fifteen  minutes  captured  her,  with  a  loss 
of  three  killed  and  one  wounded,  the  enemy  having 
four  killed  and  seven  wounded.  In  the  following 
year,  while  cruising  in  the  West  Indies,  the  Holker 
fought  the  18-gun  ship  Experiment.  These  vessels 
were  hotly  engaged,  and  the  result  was  still  in 
doubt  when  another  American  privateer  appeared 
on  the  scene,  which  induced  the  Experiment  to 
sheer  off. 

One  of  the  most  creditable  actions  of  this  war 
in  which  an  American  privateer  was  engaged  took 
place  on  September  6,  1781.  It  had  been  the  habit 
of  the  smaller  British  cruisers  stationed  on  the 
North  American  coast  to  send  boat  expeditions  at 
night  for  the  purpose  of  plundering  estates  along 
the  shore.  One  of  the  most  persistent  English  com- 
manders in  this  questionable  style  of  warfare  was 
Captain  Sterling,  of  the  16-gun  sloop  of  war  Savage. 
About  the  time  mentioned  Captain  Sterling  had 
been  exploring  Chesapeake  Bay,  and  on  one  occa- 
sion sent  a  boat  expedition  to  Mount  Vernon  and 
plundered  Washington's  estate.  Soon  after  the 
Savage  had  put  to  sea  from  the  Chesapeake,  and  was 
cruising  off  the  coast  of  Georgia  in  search  of  other 
estates  to  plunder,  she  fell  in  with  the  American 
privateer  Congress,  of  twenty-four  guns  and  two  hun- 
dred men,  under  the  command  of  Captain  George 
Geddes,  of  Philadelphia.  Mr.  Geddes,  as  we  have 
noticed,  had  been  a  highly  successful  officer  in  the 
privateer  service,  having  two  years  before  com- 
manded the  10-gun  brig  Holker,  in  w;hich  he  made  a 
most  creditable  record. 

Upon  making  out  the  Congress  to  be  an  American 
war  craft  of  superior  force,  Captain  Sterling  made 
all  sail  to  escape,  upon  which  the  Congress  gave 
chase.  It  was  early  in  the  morning  when  the  two 

212  CLOSING  YEARS  OF  THE  WAE.  1781. 

vessels  discovered  each  other,  and  by  half  past  ten 
o'clock  the  American  had  gained  so  much  that  she 
was  able  to  open  with  her  bow  chasers,  and  by 
eleven  o'clock  Captain  Geddes  was  close  on  the  Eng- 
lishman's quarter,  when  he  opened  a  rapid  fire  of 
small  arms,  to  which  the  enemy  answered  with 
energy.  Observing  that  he  had  the  swifter  ship  of 
the  two,  Captain  Geddes  forged  ahead  until  he  got 
fairly  abreast  of  his  antagonist,  when  a  fierce  broad- 
side duel  took  place.  Notwithstanding  the  Ameri- 
can superiority  in  armament,  this  fire  at  close  range 
so  injured  the  privateer's  rigging  that  it  became  un- 
manageable, and  Captain  Geddes  was  compelled  to 
fall  back  to  make  repairs.  As  soon  as  he  had  com- 
pleted this  work,  the  Congress  again  closed  on  the 
Savage  and  engaged  in  a  heavy  cannon  fire.  In  the 
course  of  an  hour  the  Englishman  was  reduced  to 
a  wreck,  the  vessels  at  times  being  so  near  each 
other  that  the  men  frequently  were  scorched  by  the 
flashes  of  the  opposing  cannon;  and  it  is  even  as- 
serted that  shot  were  thrown  with  effect  by  hand. 
Seeing  that  the  Englishman  was  reduced  to  a  de- 
plorable condition,  that  his  quarter-deck  and  fore- 
castle were  swept  clear  of  men,  and  that  his  mizzen- 
mast  had  gone  by  the  board,  while  the  mainmast 
threatened  to  follow  it,  Captain  Geddes  prepared  to 
board  and  settle  the  sanguinary  conflict  on  the 
enemy's  decks. 

Just  as  the  Americans  were  about  to  carry  out 
this  programme  the  boatswain  of  the  Savage  ap- 
peared on  the  forecastle,  and  waving  his  cap  an- 
nounced that  they  had  surrendered,  upon  which 
Captain  Geddes  immediately  took  possession.  The 
Englishmen's  losses,  according  to  their  own  state- 
ments, were  eight  killed  and  twenty-four  wounded, 
while  those  of  the  Americans  were  thirty  killed  or 
wounded.  Among  the  enemy's  killed  was  Captain 
Sterling  himself,  who  appears  to  have  fought  with 
the  most  determined  bravery.  Unfortunately  Cap- 

1781.       PEABODY  .KEPTJLSES  "GUEBRILLA  BOATS."        213 

tain  Geddes  was  not  able  to  secure  his  prize,  as 
both  vessels  were  captured  by  a  British  frigate  and 
carried  into  Charleston.  The  Congress  was  taken 
into  the  British  service  under  the  name  of  Duchess 
of  Cumberland,  Captain  Samuel  Marsh,  and  was 
wrecked  off  the  coast  of  Newfoundland  soon  after- 
ward while  on  her  way  to  England  with  American 

That  our  privateersmen  in  the  Eevolution  were 
exposed  to  attacks  other  than  those  from  their  open 
enemies  is  seen  in  the  following  account  of  Thomas 
Wentworth  Higginson.  In  the 
winter  of  1781  the  8-gun  priva- 
teer brig  Ranger,  Captain  T.  Sim- 
mons, sailed  from  Salem  with  a 
cargo  of  salt  for  Kichmond,  Vir- 
ginia. The  cargo  being  disposed 
of  at  that  port,  the  Ranger 
loaded  with  flour  at  Alexandria 
for  Havana.  "Part  of  the 
flour,"  says  Mr.  Higginson, 
"being  from  General  Washing- 
ton's plantation,  was  received 
at  Havana  at  the  marked 
weight;  all  was  sold,  and  the 
Ranger  returned  to  Alexandria  for  another  freight. 
Anchoring  at  the  mouth  of  the  Potomac,  because 
of  head  winds,  the  officers  turned  in,  but  were 
aroused  before  midnight  by  the  watch,  with  news 
that  large  boats  were  coming  toward  the  ship 
from  different  directions.  Simmons  and  Second  Offi- 
cer Joseph  Peabody  rushed  to  the  deck,  the  latter 
in  his  night  clothes.  As  they  reached  it  a  volley  of 
musketry  met  them,  and  the  captain  fell  wounded. 
Peabody  ran  forward,  shouting  to  the  crew  to  seize 
the  boarding  pikes,  and  he  himself  attacked  some 
men  who  were  climbing  on  board.  Meantime  an- 

Joseph  Peabody. 

i  See  page  125. 

CLOSING  YEARS  OF  THE  WAR.  1781-1783. 

other  strange  boat  opened  fire  from  another  quarter. 
All  was  confusion;  they  knew  not  who  were  their 
assailants  or  whence;  the  captain  lay  helpless,  the 
first  officer  was  serving  out  ammunition,  and  Pea- 
body,  still  conspicuous  in  his  white  raiment,  had 
command  of  the  deck.  Two  boats  were  already 
grappled  to  the  Ranger]  he  ordered  cold  shot  to  be 
dropped  into  them,  and  frightened  one  crew  so  that 
it  cast  off ;  then  he  ordered  his  men  against  the  other 
boat,  shouting, '  We  have  sunk  one,  boys;  now  let  us 
sink  the  other!5  His  men  cheered,  and  presently  both 
boats  dropped  astern,  leaving  one  of  the  Ranger's 
crew  dead  and  three  wounded.  Peabody  himself 
was  hurt  in  three  places,  not  counting  the  loss  of 
his  club  of  hair,  worn  in  the  fashion  of  those  days, 
which  had  been  shot  clean  off,  and  was  found  on 
deck  the  next  morning.  The  enemy  proved  to  be  a 
guerrilla  band  of  Tories,  whose  rendezvous  was  at 
St.  George's  Island,  near  where  the  Ranger  lay  at 
anchor.  There  had  been  sixty  men  in  their  boats, 
while  the  crew  of  the  Ranger  numbered  twenty;  and 
the  same  guerrillas  had  lately  captured  a  brig  of 
seven  guns  and  thirty  men  by  the  same  tactics, 
which  the  promptness  of  Peabody  had  foiled." 

A  month  after  the  brilliant  action  between  the 
Congress  and  the  Savage  the  14-gun  brig  Fair  America, 
Captain  S.  Chaplin,  of  Connecticut,  in  company  with 
the  privateer  Hotter,  captured  four  English  mer- 

No  better  illustration  of  the  extraordinary  de- 
velopment of  privateering  during  the  Eevolution  can 
be  had  than  the  manner  in  which  they  made  con- 
certed attacks  upon  the  English  toward  the  latter 
part  of  the  war.  Not  content  with  merely  captur- 
ing the  enemy's  merchantmen — and  even  cruisers 

our  privateers   arranged   expeditions   against  the 
common  foe  in  squadrons,  and  attacked  towns. 

Early  in  March,  1782,  four  American  privateers 
united  in  an  attack  on  a  squadron  of  armed  British 


vessels  at  Tortola,  in  the  West  Indies.  Among  the 
American  craft  were  the  Holker  and  the  20-gun  ship 
Junius  Brutus,  having  a  complement  of  one  hundred 
and  twenty  men,  under  Captain  N.  Broadhouse.  Un- 
fortunately the  details  of  this  ambitious  expedition 
have  not  been  preserved,  but  enough  is  known  to 
show  that  a  severe  engagement  resulted  and  two 
of  the  enemy's  vessels  were  captured. 

In  July,  1782,  four  American  privateers  united 
in  the  attack  on  the  town  of  Luenburg.  They  were 
the  9-gun  schooner  Hero,  Captain  G.  Babcock;  the 
6-gun  brig  Hope,  Captain  H.  Woodbury;  the  2-gun 
cutter  Swallow,  Captain  J.  Tibbets,  and  one  other. 
The  first  two  were  from  Massachusetts,  and  car- 
ried twenty-five  and  thirty-five  men,  respectively, 
while  the  Swallow  was  from  New  Hampshire,  and 
had  a  complement  of  only  twenty  men.  Landing  a 
force  of  men  to  attack  the  town  from  the  shore,  the 
four  privateers  entered  the  harbor  and  soon  had 
the  place  in  their  possession.  After  holding  it  some 
time  they  released  the  town  on  a  payment  of  one 
thousand  pounds. 

Another  instance  of  concerted  action  among 
American  privateers  was  that  in  which  the  10-gun 
ship  Charming  Sally,  Captain  T.  Dunn,  of  Massachu- 
setts, took  part.  This  privateer,  in  company  with 
other  private  armed  craft,  some  time  in  1782,  at- 
tacked the  formidable  English  ship  Blaze  Castle, 
carrying  twenty-six  guns.  An  action  of  two  hours' 
duration  followed,  when  the  enemy  surrendered,  the 
loss  to  the  Americans  being  five  killed  or  wounded. 

In  this  year  the  British  made  a  daring  and  suc- 
cessful attempt  to  cut  out  of  Gloucester  harbor  the 
ship  Harriet,  which  they  manned  and  sent  to  sea 
Tyith  the  intention  of  running  her  into  Halifax.  Be- 
fore reaching  that  port,  however,  the  Harriet  fell  in 
with  the  American  privateer  General  Sullivan,  a  brig 
of  fourteen  guns  and  one  hundred  men,  under  Cap- 
tain T.  Balling,  of  New  Hampshire,  and  was  recap- 

216  CLOSING  YEARS  OF  THE  WAR.  1782. 

tured.  Fonr  years  before  this  the  General  Sullivan 
had  taken  the  British  ship  Mary,  of  eight  guns. 

It  was  in  1782  that  Captain  D.  Adams,  of  the 
10-gun  sloop  Lively,  of  Massachusetts,  had  the  pleas- 
ure of  rescuing  the  officers  and  men  of  the  Brit- 
ish frigate  Blonde  that  had  been  wrecked  on  a 
barren  island,  where  the  Englishmen  must  have 
perished  in  a  short  time  had  they  not  been  dis- 

In  October  the  16-gun  schooner  Scammel,  Captain 
N.  Stoddard,  of  Massachusetts,  was  chased  ashore 
on  the  New  Jersey  coast  by  two  British  war  ships. 
The  enemy  endeavored  to  send  their  boats  aboard 
to  make  sure  of  the  destruction  of  the  privateer,  but 
they  met  with  such  a  hot  fire  that  they  were  com- 
pelled to  retire.  Shortly  afterward  the  Scammel  got 
afloat,  and  having  sustained  no  material  injury 
made  her  way  to  port. 

In  the  same  month  Captain  S.  Thompson,  of 
Massachusetts,  led  a  small  party  of  men  in  a  row- 
boat  in  an  attack  on  a  British  packet  ship.  After 
skirmishing  two  hours  the  Americans  were  com- 
pelled to  retire,  having  sustained  a  loss  of  three 
killed  and  ten  wounded.  Soon  after  this  Mr.  Thomp- 
son captured  a  snow  laden  with  oats,  and  in  the 
following  November  he  took  a  ship  with  a  cargo 
of  fish. 

These  captures  were  among  the  last  made  by 
American  privateers  in  the  Eevolution.  The  entire 
number  of  vessels  taken  in  this  struggle  from  the 
British  by  our  maritime  forces,  including  the  Con- 
tinental cruisers,  was  about  eight  hundred,  of  which 
one  hundred  and  ninety-eight  were  secured  by  craft 
commissioned  directly  by  Congress  and  the  remain- 
ing six  hundred  were  taken  by  private  enterprise. 
Perhaps  the  most  remarkable  feature  of  the  audacity 
of  our  privateers  was  the  number  of  king's  cruisers 
taken  by  them.  Not  more  than  twelve  regular  war 
ships  were  taken  by  the  Continental  cruisers,  while 


sixteen  vessels  of  this  class  were  captured  by  our 
privateers  or  by  private  enterprise.1 

James,  in  his  History  of  the  British  Navy,  records 
an  action  between  the  French  privateer  Atalante  and 
the  British  packet  Antelope,  Captain  Curtis.  The 
Atalante,  very  likely,  was  one  of  the  old  American 
privateers  engaged  in  the  war  for  American  inde- 
pendence, and  on  the  close  of  that  struggle  passed 
into  French  hands.  She  was  manned  largely  by 
American  and  Irish  seamen,  and  it  is  probable  that 
she  was  owned  by  Americans,  for  we  find  that  she 
was  fitted  out  in  Charleston,  South  Carolina. 

James  says:  ".On  the  1st  of  December,  1793,  the 
king's  packet  Antelope,  being  off  Cumberland  harbor, 
in  Cuba,  on  her  way  to  England  from  Port  Royal, 
Jamaica,  which  port  she  had  quitted  three  days 
previous,  fell  in  with  two  French  schooner  priva- 
teers of  formidable  appearance.  The  packet  imme- 
diately bore  up  for  Jamaica,  and  was  followed,  under 
all  sail,  by  the  privateers.  The  Atalante,  one  of  the 
two,  outsailing  her  consort,  continued  the  chase 
alone.  During  that  and  the  following  day  until  4 
p.  M.,  the  packet  rather  gained  upon  her  pursuer; 
but  the  wind  suddenly  failing,  the  latter  took  to  her 
sweeps,  and  soon  swept  up  alongside  of  the  Antelope. 
After  the  exchange  of  a  few  shots  the  schooner 
sheered  off.  On  the  2d,  at  5  A.  M.,  it  still  being  calm, 
the  Atalante  again  swept  up,  and  on  reaching  her 
opponent  grappled  her  on  the  starboard  side.  The 
privateer  then  poured  in  a  broadside,  and  attempted, 
under  cover  of  the  smoke,  to  carry  the  Antelope  by 
boarding;  but  the  crew  of  the  latter  drove  back  the 
assailants  with  great  slaughter. 

"  Among  the  sufferers  by  the  privateer's  broad- 
side was  the  packet's  commander,  Mr.  Curtis,  who 
fell  to  rise  no  more,  as  did  also  the  steward  and  a 

1  For  complete  list  see  Maclay's  History  of  the  Navy,  yol.  i,  pp.  150, 



French  gentleman,  a  passenger.  The  first  mate,  too, 
was  shot  through  the  body,  but  survived.  The  sec- 
ond mate,  having  died  of  the  fever  soon  after  the 
packet  had  sailed  from  Port  Royal,  the  command 
now  devolved  upon  Mr.  Pasco,  the  boatswain,  who, 
with  the  few  brave  men  left,  assisted  by  the  pas- 
sengers, repulsed  the  repeated  attempts  to  board, 
made  at  intervals  during  the  long  period  that  the 
vessels  remained  lashed  together.  At  last,  the  pri- 
vateersmen,  finding  they  had  caught  a  tartar,  cut 
the  grapplings  and  attempted  to  sheer  off.  The 
boatswain,  observing  this,  ran  aloft,  and  lashed  the 
schooner's  square -sail  yard  to  the  Antelope's  fore 
shrouds.  Immediately  a  well-directed  volley  of 
small  arms  was  poured  into  the  privateer  and  the 
crew  called  for  quarter.  This  was  granted,  notwith- 
standing the  Atalante  had  fought  with  the  red  or 
bloody  flag  at  her  masthead,  to  indicate  that  no 
quarter  would  be  shown  by  her,  and  possession  was 
forthwith  taken  of  the  prize. 

"  The  Antelope  mounted  six  3-pounders,  and  had 
sailed  with  twenty-seven  hands,  but  she  had  lost 
four  by  the  fever  and  two  were  ill  in  their  ham- 
mocks; consequently,  the  packet  commenced  the  ac- 
tion with  only  twenty-one  men  exclusive  of  the  pas- 
sengers. Her  total  loss  in  the  action  was  three 
killed  and  four  wounded.  The  Atalante  mounted 
eight  3-pounders,  and  her  complement  was  sixty- 
five  men,  composed  of  French,  Americans,  and  Irish. 
Of  these  the  first  and  second  captains  and  thirty  men 
were  killed  and  seventeen  officers  and  men  were 
wounded.  The  Antelope  now  carried  her  prize  in 
triumph  to  Annotta  Bay,  Jamaica,  where  the  two 
vessels  arrived  on  the  morning  succeeding  the  action. 
The  unparalleled  bravery  of  one  of  the  Antelope's  pas- 
sengers, a  M.  Npdin,  formerly  a  midshipman  in  the 
French  navy,  deserves  to  be  recorded.  It  is  related 
of  this  young  man  that  he  stood  by  the  helm  and 
worked  the  ship,  armed  with  a  musket  and  a  pike, 


TbAtinporfuanceof  an  Aft  of  Congiefc  of  tfc  United  State*  in  thiiob 
provided,  paged  oh  the  ninth  da7  of  July,  one  thouland  feven  hundred  and  tibetytefeht,  I  have  com- 

£S—*     ^^\>^^^^^/^^^^^^^^^^^^^n^ly^ > 

captain,  aad 

-VjrA/  ,*M  mid  the  other  onlcers  and  ctew  therof  to  fufedile,  faze  and  take  any  armed 

Ren&yefla  which  flufl  be  found  wthin  the  jurijaiabnaf  limits  of  the  Uiated  State^ 
onthehighfiai;  tod  fuch  captured  vcfcl,  with  lierappartl,  guniandappurtcoincci,  indtte^oodjor 
<fi^  which  fllall  be  found  on  Uari  the  Cnne,  tojethcr  with  «U  French  perioni  and  othert,  who  {hall 
befoundi^ngon  fcoard,  to-  brin^  vithia  fonie  port  of  the  United  States  j  and  allb  to  retake  «iy 
vefleligoodiandeflfeaiflf  the  peopk  of  the  United  Stata,  which  may  have  beea  captored  by  any 
French  aimed  veflel;  in  (ffderthat^roceedingiinaybe  Had  conceraing  fijch  capture  or  recapture  in 
doefbrm  of  W,  and  as  to  right  and  jdHceihall  appertain.  Thi*  connnyEon  to  continue  in  force  during 
Aepkafitft  of  the  Pwfident  of  the  United  States  for  the  time  being. 

atPW&lfla,  At 


Th*  Presidents  Utter  of  mwgue  to  the  privateer  Eerald, 
From  the  original 

1799.        FRENCH  GUNBOATS  ATTACK  THE  LOUISA.         219 

which  he  alternately  made  use  of;  that  when  he 
perceived  the  Atalante's  men  climbing  the  quarters 
of  the  Antelope  he  quitted  the  helm,  and  with  the 
pike  dispatched  such  as  came  within  his  reach,  re- 
turning at  proper  intervals  to  right  the  vessel;  that 
with  the  pike  and  musket  he  killed  or  disabled  sev- 
eral men,  and  continued  his  astonishing  exertions 
for  upward  of  an  hour  and  a  quarter."  For  this 
defense  of  the  packet  the  Jamaica  House  of  Assem- 
bly voted  five  hundred  guineas  for  distribution 
among  the  men  of  the  Antelope. 

Little  or  nothing  was  accomplished  by  our  priva- 
teers in  the  war  with  France,  owing  to  the  fact  that 
the  French  had  only  a  few  merchantmen  at  that 
time,  and  these  were  confined  in  their  ports  by  the 
rigor  of  the  British  blockade.  There  is  an  account 
of  one  action,  however,  in  which  the  American  priva- 
teer Louisa,  of  Philadelphia,  defeated  a  number  of 
French  gunboats  that  came  out  to  attack  her  off 
Algeciras.  After  a  desultory  action  of  some  hours 
a  lateen-rigged  craft,  filled  with  men,  made  several 
desperate  attempts  to  carry  the  Louisa  by  boarding, 
but  was  steadily  repelled.  Toward  the  close  of  the 
fight  the  commander  of  the  Louisa  was  shot  through 
the  shoulder,  and  while  his  first  officer  was  taking 
him  into  his  cabin,  to  have  the  injury  attended  to, 
the  crew,  with  the  exception  of  the  man  at  the 
wheel,  deserted  their  stations  and  ran  below.  Ob- 
serving the  confusion  in  the  Louisa,  the  Frenchmen 
rallied  for  a  final  effort,  and  when  the  first  offi- 
cer came  on  deck  again  he  found  the  enemy  ap- 
proaching to  board.  Taking  in  the  situation  at  a 
glance  the  quick-witted  officer  ran  to  the  hatchway 
and  called  on  his  men  to  come  on  deck  and  "  take 
a  last  shot  at  the  fleeing  »  Frenchmen.  The  ruse  had 
the  desired  effect.  The  sailors  hastened  to  the  deck 
and  were  immediately  sent  to  quarters,  and  a  de- 
structive fire  was  opened  on  the  enemy,  which  swept 
away  the  men  who  had  gathered  on  her  bowsprit 


and  forecastle  in  readiness  to  spring  aboard.  Be- 
lieving that  the  apparent  confusion  in  the  American 
was  a  stratagem  to  induce  them  to  come  to  close 
quarters  again,  the  Frenchmen  hastened  to  rejoin 
their  discomfited  consorts.  The  Louisa,  then  con- 
tinued her  course  to  Gibraltar,  where  she  was 
greeted  by  the  throngs  who  had  witnessed  the  affair 
from  the  Rock. 

Another  action  which  took  place  in  the  French 
war  was  that  between  the  American  privateer 
Herald,  Captain  Nathaniel  Silsbee  —  afterward 
United  States  Senator  from  Massachusetts— and  the 
French  privateer  La  Gloire.  The  Herald,  though 
bearing  a  letter  of  marque,  had  been  engaged  in  a 
trading  voyage  to  India.  On  November  1,  1800, 
Captain  Silsbee  left  Calcutta,  having  in  com- 
pany the  American  merchantmen  Perseverance,  Cap- 
tain Williamson;  Cleopatra,  Captain  Naylor;  Grace, 
Captain  Davis — all  of  Philadelphia;  and  the  SpUn®, 
Captain  Brantz,  of  Baltimore.  As  it  was  know  that 
several  French  privateers  were  cruising  in  those 
seas  it  was  agreed  between  the  commanders  of  these 
vessels  to  sail  in  company  for  mutual  safety,  the 
merchantmen  being  laden  with  cargoes  invoiced  at 
over  a  million  dollars. 

"  On  the  morning  of  November  3d,  at  daylight," 
records  Captain  Silsbee,  "  two  strange  sails  were  dis- 
covered a  few  leagues  to  windward  of  us,  one  of 
which  was  soon  recognized  to  be  the  East  India 
Company's  packet  ship  GornwalUs,  of  eighteen  guns, 
which  left  the  river  at  the  same  time  with  us.  At 
about  8  A.  M.  the  other  ship  stood  toward  the  Cornr 
wallis,  soon  after  which  the  latter  bore  down  upon 
us  under  full  sail,  commencing  at  the  same  time  a 
running  fight  with  the  other  ship,  which  then  dis- 
played French  colors.  We  soon  perceived  that  they 
were  both  plying  their  sweeps  very  briskly,  that  the 
Frenchman's  grape  was  making  great  havoc  on  the 
Cornwallis,  and  that  the  crew  of  the  latter  ship  had 




cut  away  her  boats  and  were  throwing  overboard 

their  ballast  and  other  articles  for  the  purpose  of 

lightening  their  ship.    The  sea  was  perfectly  smooth 

and  the  wind  very  light,  so  much  so  that  it  was  quite 

midday  before  either  of  the  ships  were  within  gun- 

shot of  us,  by  which  time  we  (the  five  American 

ships)    were   in   close   line, 

our  decks  cleared  of  a  large 

stock     of     poultry  —  which, 

with  their  coops,  could  be 

seen  for  a  considerable  dis- 

tance round  us  —  and  every 

preparation  made  to  defend 

ourselves  to  the  extent  of 

our  ability.     But  this  dis- 

play  of  resistance  on  our 

part  seemed  to  be  quite  dis- 

regarded  by  the   pursuing 

ship,     and    she    continued 

steering  for  my  own  ship, 

which  was  in  the  center  of 

our  fleet,  until  she  was  fully 

and  fairly  within  gunshot, 

when  my  own  guns  were  first  opened  upon  her,  which 

were  instantly  followed  by  those  of  each  and  all  of 

the  other  four  ships. 

"When  the  matches  were  applied  to  our  guns 
the  French  ship  was  plying  her  sweeps,  and,  with 
studding  sails  on  both  sides,  coming  directly  upon 
us.  But  when  the  smoke  of  our  guns,  caused  by  re- 
peated broadsides  from  each  of  our  ships,  had  so 
passed  off  as  to  enable  us  to  see  her  distinctly,  she 
was  close  upon  the  wind  and  going  from  us.  The 
captain  of  the  Cornwallis  (which  was  then  within 
hailing  distance)  expressed  a  desire  to  exchange  sig- 
nals with  us  and  to  keep  company  while  the  French 
ship  —  which  was  known  by  him  to  be  La  Gloire,  a 
privateer  of  twenty-two  9-pounders  and  four  hun- 
dred men  —  was  in  sight,  which  request  was  com- 

222  CLOSING  TEARS  OF  THE  WAR.  1800. 

plied  with;  and  he  having  lost  all  his  boats,  I  went 
on  board  his  ship,  where  our  signals  were  made 
known  to  him,  and  where  the  captain  and  officers  of 
the  CornicalUs  acknowledged  the  protection  which 
we  had  afforded  them  in  the  most  grateful  terms. 
The  Cormcallis  continued  with  us  two  days,  in  the 
course  of  which  the  privateer  approached  us  several 
times  in  the  night,  but,  finding  that  we  were  awake, 
hauled  off,  and  after  the  second  night  we  saw  no 
more  of  her." 


THE  VAE  OF  1812. 



WHEN  the  United  States  declared  war  against 
Great  Britain,  June  18,  1812,  our  navy  consisted  of 
only  seventeen  vessels,  carrying  four  hundred  and 
forty-two  guns  and  five  thousand  men.  Of  these 
only  eight,  in  the  first  few  months  of  the  war,  were 
able  to  get  to  sea.  At  the  time  hostilities  broke 
out  no  American  privateer  was  in  existence;  but 
the  rapidity  with  which  a  great  fleet  of  this  class  of 
war  craft  was  created  and  sent  to  sea  forms  one 
of  the  most  important  and  significant  episodes  in 
American  history.  At  the  first  sound  of  war  our 
merchants  hastened  to  repeat  their  marvelous 
achievements  on  the  ocean  in  the  struggle  for  in- 
dependence. Every  available  pilot  boat,  merchant 
craft,  coasting  vessel,  and  fishing  smack  was  quickly 
overhauled,  mounted  with  a  few  guns,  and  sent  out 
with  a  commission  to  "  burn,  sink,  and  destroy."  A 
newspaper  under  date  of  July  1,  1812,  notes:  "The 
people  in  the  Eastern  States  are  laboring  almost 
night  and  day  to  fit  out  privateers.  Two  have 
already  sailed  from  Salem  and  ten  others  are  get- 
ting ready  for  sea.  This  looks  well,  and  does  credit 
to  our  Eastern  friends."  By  the  middle  of  October 
New  York  had  sent  out  twenty-six  privateers,  mount- 
ing some  three  hundred  guns  and  manned  by  more 
than  two  thousand  men.  A  Baltimore  paper,  dated 
July  4,  1812,  says:  "Several  small,  swift  privateers 
will  sail  from  the  United  States  in  a  few  days.  Some 

226  FIRST  VENTURES.  1812. 

already  have  been  sent  to  sea,  and  many  others  of  a 
larger  class,  better  fitted  and  better  equipped,  will 
soon  follow." 

Niles,  in  his  Register  of  July  15,  1812,  says:  "  In 
sixty  days,  counting  the  day  on  which  war  was  de- 
clared, there  will  be  afloat  from  the  United  States 
not  less  than  one  hundred  and  fifty  privateers,  carry- 
ing, on  an  average,  seventy-five  men  and  six  guns. 
If  they  succeed  pretty  well  their  number  will  be 
doubled  in  a  short  time.  Sixty-five  were  at  sea  on 
the  15th  inst.  Many  others  are  probably  out  that 
we  have  not  heard  of."  And  this,  too,  in  spite  of 
the  fact  that  there  were  off  the  coasts  of  the  UnitecJ 
States  at  that  time  more  than  one  hundred  British 
vessels  of  war.  When  we  remember  that  our  na- 
tional war  ships,  at  the  beginning  of  the  struggle, 
numbered  only  seventeen  vessels,  carrying  four  hun- 
dred and  forty-two  guns,  it  will  be  readily  seen  that 
one  hundred  and  fifty  privateers,  carrying  about  one 
thousand  guns  and  more  than  ten  thousand  men, 
was  no  inconsiderable  augmentation  of  our  sea 

It  is  interesting  to  note,  however,  that  although 
the  first  English  merchant  vessel  taken  on  the  high 
seas  by  the  Americans  in  the  war — a  ship  from 
Jamaica  bound  for  London — was  captured  by  a 
United  States  revenue  cutter,  July  1st,  off  Cape  Hat- 
teras  and  sent  into  Norfolk,  the  first  British  Govern- 
ment vessel  was  taken  by  an  American  privateer. 
The  English  schooner  Whiting,  Lieutenant  Maxcey, 
having  on  board  dispatches  from  the  British  Gov- 
ernment for  Washington,  was  taken  in  Hampton 
Eoads,  July  10,  1812,  by  the  privateer  Dash,  Captain 
Carroway,  of  Baltimore.  The  privateer  was  armed 
with  one  gun  and  carried  a  complement  of  forty 
men.  The  Whiting  carried  four  guns.  The  former 
had  come  down  from  the  Chesapeake  prepared  for 
a  cruise  against  the  enemy,  when  she  found  the 
Whitwg  lying  at  anchor  in  the  Roads.  At  that  mo- 


ment  Lieutenant  Maxcey,  being  ignorant  of  the 
existence  of  hostilities,  was  in  a  boat  pulling  toward 
shore,  intending  to  land  at  Hampton.  Captain 
Carroway  seized  the  boat  and  then  made  for  the 
schooner.  Eunning  alongside  he  called  on  the  offi- 
cer in  charge  to  surrender,  which,  after  several 
papers  had  been  thrown  overboard,  was  done  with- 
out opposition.  These  papers  "were  said  to  relate 
to  Henry's  affair."1 

As  the  seizure  of  the  Whiting  .was  clearly  unfair, 
the  Government  ordered  her  to  be  returned.  "  On 
Wednesday  last  [August  12,  1812]  His  Britannic 
Majesty's  schooner  Whiting,  Lieutenant  Maxcey — 
detained  by  the  Dash  privateer — was  conducted  to 
Hampton  Eoads  by  the  revenue  cutter  Gallatin,  Cap- 
tain Edward  Herbert.  The  crew  of  the  Whiting  was 
given  in  charge  to  Captain  Herbert,  with  orders  to 
deliver  them  up  to  their  commander  at  the  very 
place  where  they  had  been  taken,  which  was  done, 
and  Lieutenant  Maxcey  was  then  ordered  to  quit 
the  waters  of  the  United  States  with  all  possible 
speed." 2 

About  the  time  the  Whiting  was  captured,  Cap- 
tain J.  Gold,  of  the  8-gun  privateer  schooner  Cora,  of 
Baltimore,  captured  another  English  dispatch  boat, 
the  Bloodhound,  and  carried  her  into  Annapolis.  The 
Bloodhound  also  was  released  by  our  Government; 
"  but  she  will  find  some  difficulty,"  remarks  a  con- 
temporary newspaper,  "in  working  her  passage 
home,  the  greater  part  of  her  crew  having  been  car- 
ried on  shore  as  prisoners,  refusing  their  liberty, 
have  claimed  the  protection  of  the  soil,  and  pre- 
ferred to  reside  among  us.  It  is  stated  that  the  crew 
of  the  Whiting  also  have  absolutely  refused  to  go 
on  board  that  vessel  again,  and  that  we  have  no 
law,  if  we  had  the  will,  to  compel  them."  Among 

'  Norfolk  Ledger,  July  10,  1812. 
*  Norfolk  Herald,  August  14, 

228  FIRST  VENTURES.  1812-1818. 

the  crew  of  the  Bloodhound,  several  gentlemen  at 
Annapolis  recognized  an  American  who  had  been 
impressed  three  years  before.  He  was  restored  to 
his  country.  We  learn  that  several  of  the  British 
sailors,  panting  for  revenge,  have  already  enlisted 
in  the  United  States  service,  or  entered  on  board 
our  privateers."  Aside  from  her  capture  of  the 
Bloodhound,  the  career  of  the  Cora  was  uneventful. 
She  was  captured  in  Chesapeake  Bay  by  the  Brit- 
ish squadron  in  February,  1813,  four  of  her  men 
escaping  in  a  boat  to  the  shore.  The  Dash's  useful- 
ness also  seems  to  have  been  limited  to  the  capture 
of  the  Whiting,  no  other  seizures  being  credited  to 

Many  of  the  first  privateers  to  get  to  sea  were 
small  pilot  boats,  mounting  one  long  torn  amidships, 
with  several  smaller  guns,  and  carrying  a  crew  of 
fifty  to  sixty  men,  whose  chief  dependence  in  battle 
was  on  muskets,  sabers,  and  boarding  pikes.  These 
vessels,  as  a  rule,  were  intended  merely  for  short 
cruises  in  the  Gulf  of  St.  Lawrence,  off  Nova  Scotia, 
Newfoundland,  and  among  the  West  India  Islands. 
At  that  time  they  were  sufficiently  formidable  to 
capture  the  average  British  merchantman,  but  as 
the  war  progressed  the  great  increase  in  armaments 
and  complements  of  English  trading  vessels  made 
our  smaller  privateers  almost  impotent.  As  soon 
as  it  was  known  that  war  had  been  declared  a  swift 
pilot  boat  hastened  across  the  Atlantic  to  Gotten- 
borg,  and  gave  warning  to  all  American  merchant- 
men then  in  the  ports  of  Sweden,  Denmark,  Prussia, 
and  Russia.  In  this  way  a  large  number  of  our  mer- 
chant craft  were  saved  from  capture,  those  that  did 
venture  out  being  fast-sailing  vessels  that  could 
easily  outsail  the  average  British  cruiser,  or  letter 
of  marque. 

Among  the  first  pilot-boat  privateers  to  get  to 
sea  were  the  Black  Joke,  Captain  B.  Erenow,  and 
Jack's  Favorite,  Captain  Johnson,  both  of  New  York. 


The  first,  a  sloop  of  five  guns  and  sixty  men,  brought 
in  two  small  prizes.  Jack's  Favorite  was  more  suc- 
cessful, that  vessel  returning  to  New  York  early  in 
July,  1812,  having  taken  the  schooner  Rebecca,  laden 
with  sugar  and  molasses  from  Trinidad  for  Hali- 
fax, which  was  sent  into  New  London;  the  brig 
Betsey,  taken  two  hundred  and  fifty  miles  west  of 
Eock  of  Lisbon,  with  a  full  cargo  of  wine  and  raisins 
from  Malaga  for  St.  Petersburg  valued  at  seventy- 
five  thousand  dollars,  which  arrived  at  Plymouth, 
Massachusetts,  safely;  and  three  sloops  that  were 
destroyed  at  sea.  The  Jack's  Favorite,  like  the  Black 
Joke,  carried  five  guns  and  a  crew  of  eighty  men. 

At  the  time  the  Jack's  Favorite  and  the  Black  Joke 
were  operating  against  British  commerce,  the  priva- 
teers Rapid,  of  Portland,  the  Dolphin,  the  Jefferson, 
the  Lion,  the  SnoivUrd,  and  the  Fair  Trader,  all  of 
Salem,  were  cruising  on  the  high  seas.  The  first 
had,  at  different  times,  two  commanders,  the  first 
being  Captain  W.  Crabtree,  and  the  second  Captain 
J.  Weeks.  The  Rapid  took  one  ship  and  two  brigs. 
The  ship  was  the  Experience,  her  cargo  being  valued 
at  two  hundred  and  fifty  thousand  dollars.  One  of 
the  brigs  was  ransomed,  and  the  other,  the  St.  An- 
drews, of  eight  guns,  for  Bristol,  England,  in  bal- 
last, was  sent  into  Portland.  The  Rapid  also  had 
an  action  with  a  British  privateer,  the  schooner 
Searcher,  mounting  one  gun  and  having  a  comple- 
ment of  twenty  men.  The  Rapid  was  a  brig  carrying 
fourteen  guns  and  eighty-four  men.  The  Searcher 
was  taken  without  difficulty  and  burned.  Soon 
afterward  the  Rapid's  career  was  cut  short  by  the 
British  frigates  Maidstone  and  Spartan,  which  on  Oc- 
tober 17,  1812,  captured  her  after  a  chase  of  eleven 
hours,  during  which  the  Americans  had  thrown  over- 
board all  their  guns,  boats,  and  every  movable  arti- 
cle in  a  vain  endeavor  to  escape.  The  Rapid,  how- 
ever, had  paid  for  herself  many  times  over. 

The  privateers  Dolphin  and  Jefferson,  the  latter 

230  FIRST  VENTURES.  1812. 

commanded  by  Captain  J.  Downer,  and  carrying  two 
guns  and  forty  men,  also  sent  into  Salem  a  brig,  four 
schooners,  and  a  shallop  laden  with  dry  goods.  In 
all  the  Jefferson  took  one  brig,  four  schooners,  and 
one  sloop.  The  Jefferson  was  a  schooner  carrying 
two  guns  and  forty  men,  while  the  Dolphin  is  cred- 
ited with  one  gun  and  twenty  men. 

In  July,  1812,  three  Nova  Scotia  shallops  arrived 
in  Marblehead  as  prizes  of  the  privateer  Lion,  Cap- 
tain J.  Hitch,  of  Salem.  The  Lion  was  a  sloop  carry- 
ing two  guns  and  twenty  men.  With  the  assistance 
of  the  armed  schooner  Snowbird,  Captain  S.  Stacy, 
the  Lion  also  captured  five  English  brigs  from  Liver- 
pool bound  for  St.  John's.  One  brig  taken  by  the 
Lion  and  Snowbird  carried  six  guns,  but  made  no 
resistance.  The  Lion  is  credited  in  this  war  with 
having  taken  in  all  one  brig,  two  schooners,  and 
three  sloops. 

Although  carrying  only  one  gun  and  a  crew  of 
twenty-five  men,  the  armed  schooner  Fair  Trader, 
Captain  J.  Morgan,  performed  more  valuable  serv- 
ices than  any  of  the  foregoing  privateers.  Getting 
to  sea  at  the  outbreak  of  hostilities  Captain  Mor- 
gan, in  one  cruise,  took  three  schooners:  one  having 
a  cargo  of  beef,  flour,  fish,  etc.;  another  being  laden 
with  gin  and  tobacco  for  St.  Andrews;  and  the  third 
with  lumber  on  deck.  After  seizing  these  vessels 
the  Fair  Trader  fell  in  with  the  British  ship  Jarrett, 
Captain  Eichard  Jacobs,  from  Bristol,  England,  for 
St.  Andrews,  in  ballast.  She  was  a  fine  craft  of  four 
hundred  tons  burden,  carrying  two  6-pounders  and 
eighteen  men.  At  this  time  the  privateer's  comple- 
ment had  been  reduced — through  manning  her  pre- 
vious prizes— to  fifteen  men.  Notwithstanding  his 
short-handed  condition  Captain  Morgan  boldly  ran 
under  the  Jarrett's  stern  and  demanded  her  sur- 
render, at  the  same  time  discharging  his  single  gun. 
It  seems  that  of  the  Jarrett's  eighteen  men  four  were 
Americans,  and  on  their  making  out  the  privateer 


to  be  an  American  they  left  their  stations  and  re- 
fused to  fight.  Captain  Jacobs  decided  to  surrender, 
the  four  Americans  enlisting  in  the  Fair  Trader. 
This  privateer  took  in  all  one  ship,  one  brig,  and  five 
schooners;  but  on  July  16, 1812,  while  in  the  Bay  of 
Fundy,  a  few  days  after  sending  the  Jarrett  safely 
into  Salem,  she  was  chased  by  the  18-gun  brig  of 
war  Indian,  Captain  Jane,  and  was  captured.  Later 
in  the  war  another  privateer,  pierced  for  eighteen 
guns,  was  built  under  the  same  name,  but  that  also 
fell  into  the  hands  of  the  enemy  and  was  destroyed 
in  Buzzards  Bay. 

But  the  loss  of  the  first  Fair  Trader  had  been 
avenged  in  advance,  two  days  before  her  capture  by 
the  Indian,  when  that  cruiser  attempted  to  capture 
the  privateer  schooner  Polly.  That  much  advantage 
was  gained  by  privateers  sailing  in  couples  is  shown 
in  the  cruise  of  this  vessel  and  the  2-gun  schooner 
Madison,  of  fifty  men,  Captain  D.  Elwell.  The  Polly 
carried  five  guns  and  fifty-seven  men,  under  the  com- 
mand of  Captain  T.  Handy,  both  of  Salem.  They  got 
to  sea  early  in  the  war.  Their  first  success  was  the 
seizure  of  a  valuable  transport  by  a  clever  strata- 
gem. These  two  privateers  were  cruising  in  com- 
pany on  July  14,  1812,  when  they  gave  chase  to  two 
vessels  which  they  took  to  be  merchantmen.  It  was 
not  until  they  were  nearly  within  gunshot  that  one  of 
the  strangers  was  discovered  to  be  an  18-gun  brig 
of  war  carrying  in  all  twenty-two  guns.  She  was,  in 
fact,  the  Indian,  which  only  two  days  after  destroyed 
the  Fair  Trader.  Captain  Jane  promptly  stood  for 
the  privateers  under  a  press  of  sail. 

The  American  vessels  separated,  the  cruiser 
selecting  the  Polly  and  giving  her  a  hard  chase. 
While  the  brig  of  war  was  almost  within  gunshot  it 
fell  calm  and  the  Englishmen  got  out  their  launch 
and  longboat,  with  forty  men,  and  pulled  toward  the 
Polly.  When  within  musket  shot  the  British  crew 
gave  three  cheers,  and  opening  a  brisk  fire  of  small 

232  FIEST  VENTURES.  1813-1814. 

arms,  and  from  their  4-pounder,  dashed  toward  the 
privateer.  This  was  the  signal  for  the  Americans  to 
open,  and  for  a  few  minutes  the  water  in  the  vicinity 
of  the  launch  was  whipped  into  froth  by  musket  balls 
and  langrage.  In  a  short  time  the  launch  surren- 
dered, while  the  other  boat  made  a  hasty  retreat. 
Captain  Handy  was  unable  to  take  possession  of  the 
launch,  however,  for  the  cruiser  was  dangerously 
near,  so  he  seized  this  opportunity  to  man  his  sweeps 
and  thus  made  his  escape.  But  the  Americans  had 
the  satisfaction  of  noting  that  when  the  launch  ad- 
vanced to  the  attack  she  showed  sixteen  sweeps, 
while  on  her  retreat  only  five  were  seen.  About  this 
time  the  Polly  captured  the  schooner  Eliza,  of  Hali- 
fax, for  Jamaica,  and  sent  her  into  Salem.  Before 
returning  to  port  Captain  Handy  took  the  sloop 
Endeavor,  Captain  Newman,  from  Bermuda  for  New- 
foundland, laden  with  sugar,  and  sent  her  into 
Salem.  Another  prize  credited  to  this  privateer  was 
the  brig  President,  laden  with  molasses,  which  was 
sent  into  Savannah,  October,  1813.  On  April  10, 
1814,  the  Polly  was  captured  by  the  16-gun  brig  of 
war  Barbadoes  off  San  Domingo  after  a  chase  of  sixty 

By  the  time  the  Polly  had  beaten  off  the  Indian's 
boats  the  Madison  was  not  in  sight,  Captain  Elwell 
having  made  all  speed  for  the  brig  that  had  been 
in  the  cruiser's  company.  He  had  little  trouble  in 
taking  her.  She  was  found  to  be  the  British  Gov- 
ernment transport  No.  50,  a  fine  brig  of  two  hundred 
and  ninety  tons,  mounting  two  guns  and  manned  by 
twelve  men.  She  was  from  Halifax  for  St.  John's, 
and  had  on  board  one  hundred  casks  of  gunpowder, 
eight  hundred  and  eighty  suits  of  uniform  for  the 
One  Hundred  and  Fourth  Light  Infantry,  some  bales 
of  cloth  for  officers'  uniforms,  ten  casks  of  wine,  be- 
sides drums,  trumpets,  and  other  camp  equipage, 
the  entire  cargo  being  computed  to  be  worth  some 
fifty  thousand  dollars. 


Before  reaching  port  the  Madison  captured,  after 
a  sharp  engagement,  the  brig  Eliza,  carrying  six 
guns  to  the  privateer's  two.  The  Americans  had 
two  men  wounded,  while  the  master  of  the  prize  was 
badly  injured.  Putting  into  Eastport,  Maine,  with 
a  prize,  a  schooner,  and  another  privateer,  the  Madi- 
son, on  August  3,  1812,  fell  in  with  the  38-gun 
frigate  Spartan,  Captain  Brenton,  and  the  32-gun 
frigate  Maidstone.  Anticipating  trouble,  Captain  El- 
well  had  moved  to  a  point  about  six  miles  below 
Eastport,  and  running  close  inshore  landed  his 
men  and  guns  and  erected  a  battery.  Scarcely  had 
this  been  done  when  six  boats,  full  of  men  from 
the  cruisers,  were  discovered  approaching.  When 
within  range  the  privateersmen  opened  a  heavy  fire, 
which  was  returned.  After  sustaining  a  loss  of 
twenty  or  thirty  killed  or  wounded  the  enemy  re- 
treated. On  the  following  day  they  renewed  the 
attack  with  overpowering  forces,  and  this  time  suc- 
ceeded in  taking  the  privateer  and  her  prize,  the 
privateersmen  escaping  into  the  woods.  Not  one  of 
the  Americans  was  injured  in  the  first  attack,  but 
several  casualties  were  reported  in  the  second  day's 
fight.  The  Madison  had  taken  in  all  four  ships,  three 
brigs,  and  a  schooner. 

Four  days  after  the  action  between  the  Polly  and 
the  Indian's  boats  the  American  privateer  Falcon, 
Captain  George  Wilson,  had  a  running  fight  with 
the  British  cutter  Hero.  The  Falcon  was  making  the 
voyage  from  Boston  to  Bordeaux,  and  on  July  18, 
1812,  while  off  the  coast  of  France,  she  fell  in  with 
the  Hero,  carrying  five  guns  and  fifty  men.  The 
American  mounted  four  guns  and  had  a  complement 
of  only  sixteen  men.  After  a  fight  lasting  two  hours 
and  a  half  Captain  Wilson  compelled  the  cutter  to 
haul  off,  the  enemy  having  made  three  unsuccess- 
ful attempts  to  board.  On  the  following  day  Cap- 
tain Wilson,  while  engaged  in  repairing  his  consid- 
erable injuries,  was  attacked  by  a  British  privateer 

234:  FIRST  VENTURES.  1812. 

carrying  six  guns  and  forty  men.  The  Americans 
made  another  gallant  fight,  and  for  an  hour  and  a 
half  kept  the  privateer  off,  but  after  Captain  Wilson 
and  several  of  his  men  had  been  wounded  the  Falcon 
was  carried  by  boarding,  though  with  her  colors 
flying.  She  was  taken  into  Guernsey,  where  the 
wounded  were  sent  ashore. 

About  the  same  time  the  privateer  Gypsey,  of 
New  York,  also  making  for  Bordeaux,  was  seized 
by  a  British  cruiser.  The  Englishmen  placed  a  prize 
crew  aboard  the  Gypsey,  and  ordered  her  to  a  British 
port.  Scarcely  had  the  cruiser  separated  from  her 
prize,  however,  when  the  Americans  hit  upon  a  plan 
for  recapturing  the  schooner.  Seizing  a  favorable 
opportunity  they  rose  on  their  captors  and  carried 
the  vessel  into  a  French  port. 

The  Wile  Renard — at  first  commissioned  as  the 
"  Wiley  Reynard,  of  one  gun  " — was  a  Boston  schooner 
hastily  prepared  for  private  enterprise  on  the  high 
seas.  She  made  a  short  but  successful  cruise  early 
in  the  war,  taking  in  all  three  ships,  two  brigs,  and 
four  schooners,  all  of  which  reached  port  in  safety. 
Among  her  prizes  was  the  schooner  Sally,  from  Syd- 
ney, Nova  Scotia,  which  got  safely  into  Boston,  Au- 
gust 5, 1812.  In  her  second  venture  the  Wile  Renard 
was  captured,  October  4, 1812,  by  the  38-gun  frigate 
Shannon,  Captain  Philip  Bowes  Vere  Broke. 

Less  successful  than  the  Wile  Renard  was  the  6- 
gun  sloop  Gleaner— sometimes  called  the  "  Gleaner 
packet  "—Captain  N.  Lord.  She  was  from  Kenne- 
bunk,  Maine,  with  a  complement  of  forty  men,  and 
was  captured  on  her  maiden  cruise,  July  23,  1812, 
when  off  Cape  Sable,  by  the  18-gun  brig  of  war 
Golibri,  Captain  Thompson.  Three  days  later  the 
Colibri  took  the  privateer  Catherine,  of  fourteen  guns 
and  eighty-eight  men,  Captain  F.  Burham,  of  Boston. 
The  Catherine  was  cruising  off  Cape  Sable  and  had 
captured  one  bark,  when  she  fell  into  the  clutches 
of  the  cruiser.  Captain  Burham  resisted  for  an  hour 


and  a  half,  and  did  not  surrender  until  his  boatswain 
had  been  killed  and  his  first  officer  and  several  men 
had  been  wounded.  The  British  had  six  men  killed 
and  a  number  wounded. 

About  this  time  the  5-gun  schooner  Nancy,  Cap- 
tain E.  Smart,  of  Portsmouth,  New  Hampshire,  car- 
rying forty  men,  made  a  prize  of  the  British  ship 
Resolution,  laden  with  flour.  She  was  sent  into  Ports- 

The  fortunes  of  war  were  well  illustrated  in  the 
cases  of  the  American  privateers  Gossamer  and  Cur- 
leiv  and  the  British  brig  of  war  Emulous,  Captain 
Mule  aster.  The  Gossamer  was  a  14-gun  privateer  of 
Salem,  commanded  by  Captain  C.  Goodrich,  and  was 
one  of  the  largest  privateers  sent  out  of  Boston  in 
1812,  she  having  a  complement  of  one  hundred  men. 
Her  first  and  only  prize  was  the  ship  Ann  Green,  from 
Jamaica  for  Quebec,  which  was  taken  into  Boston. 
The  prize  was  armed  with  eight  12-pounders  and  two 
long  6-pounders,  a  very  formidable  armament  for  a 
merchantman  at  that  time.  Part  of  her  cargo  con- 
sisted of  one  hundred  hogsheads  of  rum,  and  the 
entire  "  catch  "  netted  her  captors  forty  thousand 

A  few  days  later,  July  30th,  the  Gossamer's  career 
was  cut  short  by  the  British  18-gun  brig  of  war 
Emulous,  which  made  easy  capture  of  the  privateer 
off  Cape  Sable.  The  Emulous  had  not  long  been  in 
possession  of  her  prize,  however,  when  the  cruiser 
was  lost  on  Ragged  Island,  near  the  scene  of  the 
Gossamer's  capture.  Though  the  officers  and  crew 
of  the  cruiser  were  now  without  a  ship,  fortune  soon 
placed  at  their  disposal  another  craft,  to  which  they 
transferred  their  quarters.  It  seems  that  six  days 
before  the  Emulous  took  the  Gossamer  the  British 
frigate  Acasta,  Captain  Kerr,  while  in  a  dense  fog, 
had  drifted  alongside  of  the  fine  American  priva- 
teer brig  Curlew,  of  Boston.  It  was  not  until  the 
fog  had  lifted  that  Captain  William  Wyer,  of  the 

236  FIEST  VBNTUBBS.  1812-1813. 

privateer,  discovered  the  undesirable  proximity  of 
the  frigate,  and  being  politely  requested  to  sur- 
render did  so  with  all  the  grace  possible  under  the 
circumstances.  The  Curlew  carried  sixteen  guns  and 
a  complement  of  one  hundred  and  seventy-two  men, 
and  being  in  every  way  as  good  a  vessel,  and  almost 
of  the  same  size  as  the  Emulous,  the  officers  and 
crew  of  the  unlucky  war  brig  were  transferred  to 
her,  and  they  continued  to  cruise  after  the  mis- 
chievous Yankees.  On  May  2d  of  the  following  year 
the  Curlew,  then  under  the  command  of  Captain 
Michael  Head,  had  a  narrow  escape  from  Captain 
John  Rodgers,  then  cruising  in  the  44-gun  frigate 
President.  As  it  was  the  Curlew  showed  a  "  clean 
pair  of  heels,"  and  kept  up  the  reputation  of  Ameri- 
can shipbuilders  by  outsailing  the  frigate. 

Two  days  after  the  inhabitants  of  Gloucester, 
Massachusetts,     had     celebrated     the     "Glorious 
Fourth"  of  1812  there  appeared  in  the  harbor  of 
that  town  a  brig  which  had  slowly  worked  her  way 
into  the  Roads  with  two  flags  flying  at  half-mast, 
one  American  and  the  other  English.    This  singu- 
lar apparition  attracted  the  attention  of  the  towns- 
folk, who  gathered  at  the  wharf  awaiting  an  ex- 
planation.    Soon  a  boat  came  ashore  announcing 
that  the  brig  was  the  American  merchantman  Pick- 
ering, Captain  Davis,  from  Gibraltar,  which  had  been 
taken  only  a  few  days  before  by  the  British  36-gun 
frigate  Belvidera,   Captain   Richard   Byron.      That 
frigate  had  just  made  her  escape  from  Captain  Rodg- 
ers'  squadron,   and  falling  in   with  the   Pickering 
took  her.    Captain  Byron,  after  placing  a  prize  mas- 
ter and  eight  men  aboard  the  Pickering,  with  orders 
to  make  for  Halifax,  continued  his  cruise. 

^  When  the  merchantman  *  had  come  within  six 
miles  of  her  port,  the  Americans,  with  the  assistance 
of  four  passengers,  overpowered  the  prize  crew  and 
carried  the  Pickering  into  Gloucester.  The  British 
prisoners  "  spoke  very  unfavorably  of  Captain  Rodo-- 

1812.  A  CLEVER  RECAPTURE.  237 

ers.  The  Belvidera  was  much  shattered  in  her 
stern  and  lost  one  topmast.  She  had  one  man  killed 
and  one  wounded,  who  died." 1  The  singular  cir- 
cumstance of  the  Pickering  coming  into  port  with 
American  and  English  flags  at  half-mast  is  explained 
in  another  account,  which  says:  "When  the  prison- 
ers were  landed  the  flags  of  the  two  vessels,  belong- 
ing to  a  wretch  born  in  the  United  States,  but  never- 
theless not  an  American,  were  hoisted  half-mast 
high  to  show  his  regret  that  certain  citizens  had 
recovered  their  property  from  the  subjects  of  his 
king."  It  is  claimed  that  the  Pickering  had  sixty 
thousand  dollars  on  board,  which  the  officers  of  the 
Belvidera  did  not  discover. 

Another  instance  of  an  American  ship  being  re- 
captured by  her  own  people  was  that  of  the  brig 
Nerina,  Captain  Stewart,  which  arrived  in  New  Lon- 
don, August  4,  1812.  This  recapture  was  the  result 
of  a  stratagem  practiced  by  the  long-headed  Yankee 
commander.  The  Nerina  had  sailed  from  Newry,  Ire- 
land, before  it  was  known  that  war  existed  between 
the  United  States  and  Great  Britain.  When  off  the 
American  coast  the  Nerina  was  seized  by  a  British 
cruiser,  and  all  her  men,  with  the  exception  of  Cap- 
tain Stewart,  were  taken  aboard  the  man-of-war.  A 
prize  crew  was  then  placed  in  the  merchantman  and 
ordered  to  make  for  Halifax.  Believing  that  Captain 
Stewart  was  the  only  prisoner  aboard,  the  English 
prize  master  relaxed  his  vigilance.  It  seems,  how- 
ever, that  there  were  some  fifty  American  passengers 
in  the  brig,  and  when  it  was  seen  that  they  must  be 
captured  Captain  Stewart  induced  the  passengers 
to  conceal  themselves  in  the  hold,  promising  their 
release  as  soon  as  the  cruiser  was  out  of  sight. 
Scarcely  had  the  man-of-war  disappeared  below  the 
horizon  when  the  Yankee  skipper  innocently  sug- 
gested to  the  British  prize  master  the  propriety  of 

1  Private  letter,  dated  Salem,  Julj  6,  1812. 

238  FIRST  VENTURES.  1812-1813. 

opening  the  hatches,  "as  the  hold  needed  airing." 
The  suggestion  was  promptly  adopted,  and  much  to 
the  surprise  of  the  captors  fifty  men  sprang  on 
deck,  overpowered  the  unsuspecting  prize  crew,  and 
brought  the  ship  into  New  London. 

The  armed  schooner  Paul  Jones,  of  sixteen  guns 
and  one  hundred  and  twenty  men,  Captain  J.  Hazard 
(afterward  commanded  by  Captain  A.  Taylor),  of 
New  York,  captured  the  English  brig  Ulysses,  from 
the  West  Indies  bound  for  Halifax,  and  sent  her 
into  Norfolk.  Later  in  the  war  (May  23,  1813)  the 
Paul  Jones  took  the  Leonidas  after  a  hard  chase,  in 
which  five  of  the  eighty-five  Americans  were  wound- 
ed. In  all,  this  vessel  captured  six  ships,  seven 
brigs,  and  two  sloops.  The  Paul  Jones  sailed  on  her 
second  cruise  early  in  January,  1813.  On  January 
7th  she  captured  the  ship  Beaton,  of  twelve  6-pound- 
ers,  laden  with  flour,  from  San  Salvador  for  Lisbon. 
On  the  25th  she  recaptured  the  American  brig  Little 
James,  besides  the  following  valuable  prizes:  St. 
Martin's  Planter,  of  twelve  guns,  from  Malta  for 
London;  the  transport  Canada,  of  ten  guns,  and  hav- 
ing on  board  one  hundred  soldiers  and  forty-two 
horses;1  the  Quebec,  from  London  for  Gibraltar,  of 
twelve  guns,  and  laden  with  seven  hundred  and  fifty 
packages  of  drygoods.  The  Canada  was  ransomed 
for  three  thousand  pounds,  after  the  troops  had  been 
disarmed.  On  February  27th  the  Paul  Jones  cap- 
tured the  sloop  Pearl,  of  London,  for  St.  Michael's, 
laden  with  fruit;  the  brig  Return,  of  London;  the 
brig  John  and  Isabella,  of  Berwick-on-Tweed;  and  the 
brig  London  Packet,  of  six  guns.  The  John  and  Isa- 
bella was  given  up  as  a  cartel  for  the  prisoners. 

On  the  evening  of  July  9,  1812,  the  armed 
schooner  Fame,  Captain  William  Webb,  of  Salem, 
entered  that  port  after  having  captured  an  English 
ship  of  about  three  hundred  tons  burden,  laden  with 

1  Log  book  of  the  Paul  Jones. 

1812.  CAREER  OF  THE  FAME.  239 

lumber,  and  a  brig  of  two  hundred  tons,  laden  with 
tar.  The  ship  was  armed  with  two  4-pounders,  but 
was  unable  to  make  use  of  them,  as  the  Americans 
boarded  her  unexpectedly.  The  Fame  was  a  small 
vessel  of  only  thirty  tons,  carrying  one  gun  and  a 
crew  of  twenty  men.  She  was  an  old  craft,  having 
been  used  as  a  privateer  in  the  Kevolution.  Perhaps 
this  vessel  won  her  greatest  distinction  in  her  next 
voyage,  in  which  she  took  several  vessels  having  a 
singular  series  of  names.  Under  the  command  of 
Captain  Green  she  returned  to  Boston,  October  11, 
3812,  from  a  highly  successful  cruise  of  only  fifteen 
days,  in  which  time  she  had  captured  five  vessels, 
all  schooners,  one  of  them  bearing  the  name  Four 
Sons,  from  the  Bay  of  Chaleur,  laden  with  fish  and 
furs;  another,  called  the  Four  Brothers,  from  the 
West  Indies  for  Newfoundland;  and  a  third,  named 
the  Three  Sisters.  The  other  two  prizes  were  the 
Betsey  Ann,  laden  with  sugar,  from  the  West  Indies, 
taken  in  sight  of  Halifax  harbor,  and  the  Delight, 
from  Bermuda  for  Halifax,  laden  with  wine  and 
silks,  which  was  sent  into  Machias.  All  these  prizes 
reached  port. 

The  privateer  sloop  Science,  carrying  five  guns 
and  fifty-two  men,  under  the  command  of  Captain 
W.  Fernald,  sailed  from  Portsmouth,  New  Hamp- 
shire, August  12,  1812,  in  company  with  the  armed 
schooner  Thomas,  Captain  T.  Shaw,  of  twelve  guns 
and  eighty  men.  The  Science  was  captured  when 
thirteen  days  out  by  the  omnipresent  Emulous.  The 
Thomas  took  three  ships,  one  brig,  and  one  schooner, 
with  a  total  valuation  of  six  hundred  thousand  dol- 
lars. One  of  these  ships,  the  Dromo,  mounted  twelve 
guns,  and  'two  of  them  carried  fourteen  each,  but 
had  for  complements  only  twenty-five  and  thirty 
men  respectively.  The  Dromo  was  from  Liverpool  for 
Halifax,  and  had  a  cargo  invoiced  at  seventy  thou- 
sand pounds  sterling.  She  was  sent  into  Wiscasset. 
Sailing  again,  September  23, 1813,  the  Thomas,  when 

240  FIRST  VENTURES.  1812. 

six  days  out,  was  captured  off  Cape  North  by  the  32- 
gun  frigate  Nymph,  after  a  chase  of  thirty-four 
hours,  in  which  eight  of  the  privateer's  guns  were 
thrown  overboard. 

The  ship  (or  schooner,  by  some  accounts)  Or- 
lando, of  two  hundred  and  eighteen  tons,  eight  guns, 
and  seventy-five  men,  Captain  J.  Babson,  returned 
to  Gloucester,  August  28,  1812,  after  a  successful 
cruise,  in  which  she  had  taken  two  brigs,  one 
schooner,  and  one  sloop. 

On  July  23,  1812,  the  schooner  Dolphin,  Captain 
Endicott,  of  Salem,  returned  to  port  after  a  venture 
of  twenty  days  on  the  sea.  She  had  been  chased 
several  times  by  British  cruisers,  but  always  es- 
caped. Captain  Endicott  took  six  prizes,  and 
treated  his  prisoners  with  such  kindness  that  when, 
on  one  occasion,  he  was  for  twenty-four  hours 
hard  pressed  by  an  English  frigate,  the  prisoners 
gave  a  willing  hand  in  manning  the  boats  and 
assisted  in  towing  the  privateer  out  of  gunshot. 
They  declared  that  they  would  much  rather  go  to 
America  than  enter  a  British  man-of-war.  Some 
of  the  Dolphin's  prizes  were  the  ship  Wabisch,  laden 
with  timber,  the  brig  Antelope,  and  the  ship  Empress, 
which  were  sent  into  port;  a  schooner  (name  not 
given),  which  was  released  for  one  hundred  thou- 
sand dollars  in  specie  and  a  quantity  of  beaver  skins; 
a  brig  of  twelve  guns,  with  an  assorted  cargo  from 
St.  Michael,  which  was  sent  into  New  London;  the 
schooner  Ann  Kelly,  of  Halifax,  with  a  miscellane- 
ous cargo;  the  brig  St.  Andrews,  bound  for  England; 
the  ship  Mary,  from  Bristol,  England,  for  St.  John's, 
carrying  fourteen  guns  and  having  a  considerable 
quantity  of  arms  and  ammunition  on  board;  the 
ship  Venus,  an  American  vessel,  with  English  prop- 
erty on  board  valued  at  sixty  thousand  dollars;  and 
the  schooner  Jane,  from  the  West  Indies  for  Halifax, 
sent  into  Marblehead.  After  this  highly  successful 
cruise  the  Dolphin  got  to  sea  again,  but  on  August 


12,  1812,  she  was  captured  by  the  enemy.  Another 
Dolphin,  according  to  British  accounts,  was  captured 
by  the  ColwnUa,  December  4, 1812. 

In  the  first  eight  weeks  of  the  war  the  British 
captured  one  of  our  Government  vessels,  the  Nau- 
tilus, thirteen  privateers,  fifteen  ships,  fourteen 
brigs,  ten  schooners,  and  one  sloop.  In  the  same 
time  our  Government  cruisers  took  eight  merchant- 
men, while  our  privateers  seized  one  British  Govern- 
ment craft,  besides  nearly  one  hundred  vessels.  The 
Essex  Register  records  thirty-seven  prizes  of  priva- 
teers which  sailed  from  Salem,  Gloucester,  and 




ONE  of  the  first  services  required  of  our  sea  forces 
in  the  War  of  1812  was  the  suppression  of  the  illicit 
trade  that  sprang  up  between  the  United  States  and 
the  British  armies  in  Spain.  At  the  time  war  was 
declared  Great  Britain  was  operating  extensively 
against  the  French  on  the  Iberian  Peninsula,  and 
depended  largely  on  America  for  provisions.  High 
prices  for  such  supplies  tempted  many  of  our  mer- 
chants not  only  to  run  the  risk  of  capture  and  con- 
fiscation of  their  cargoes,  but  to  brave  the  odium 
of  their  fellow-countrymen.  Many  cargoes  were 
sent  from  the  ports  of  the  United  States  to  Halifax 
and  thence  to  Spain,  and  though  some  of  them  got 
safely  to  their  destination,  yet  the  vigilance  of  our 
cruisers  and  privateersmen  caused  the  seizure  of  a 
large  number.  In  September,  1813,  seventeen  thou- 
sand barrels  of  flour  arrived  from  our  ports  in  Hali- 
fax. In  November  of  the  same  year  a  sloop  arrived 
in  Boston  ostensibly  from  Kennebunk,  but  on  in- 
vestigation it  was  shown  that  she  came  from  Hali- 
fax. The  sloop  was  seized  by  the  customhouse  offi- 
cers and  two  men  were  placed  aboard  as  a  guard. 
On  the  night  of  November  17th  a  number  of  men 
suddenly  took  possession  of  the  craft,  and,  securing 
the  guard  with  ropes,  removed  the  cargo. 

This  illicit  trade  was  early  brought  to  the  atten- 
tion of  the  public  by  a  capture  made  by  the  little 
2-gun  American  schooner  Teazer,  manned  by  fifty 



men.  This  vessel  recaptured  the  fine,  newly  cop- 
pered American  ship  Margaret,  which  had  been  taken 
by  the  British  war  schooner  Plumper,  Captain  Bray. 
The  Margaret  had  sailed  from  Liverpool  before  it  was 
known  that  war  between  the  United  States  and  Eng- 
land had  broken  out.  She  was  laden  with  a  valu- 
able cargo  of  earthenware  and  ironmongery,  besides 
having  on  board  thirteen  thousand  bushels  of  salt, 
the  ship  and  cargo  being  worth  fifty  thousand  dol- 
lars. On  falling  in  with  the  Plumper,  a  British  prize 
master  and  twelve  men  were  placed  in  charge  of 
the  Margaret,  with  orders  to  make  for  Halifax. 

Captain  Bray  seems  to  have  followed  a  practice 
which  was  largely  indulged  in  early  in  the  war  by 
British  commanders  on  the  North  American  station. 
In  order  to  evade  the  embargo  a  number  of  Ameri- 
can vessels  hastened  to  Lisbon  with  cargoes  of  pro- 
visions for  the  allied  British  and  Spanish  armies, 
which  were  sold  at  great  profit.     As  these  provi- 
sions, at  that  time,,  were  very  difficult  to  get  in  Eu- 
rope, the  British  encouraged  American  merchants 
by  issuing  "  British  licenses  "  to  all  American  ves- 
sels  engaged  in  this  trade  whose  masters   were 
"  well  inclined  toward  British  interests,"  by  which 
such  craft  were  exempt  from  seizure  by  British 
cruisers   or  privateers;   notwithstanding  the   fact 
that  the  two  countries  were  at  war.    A  considerable 
fee  was  charged  for  the  protection.     It  was  deemed 
unpatriotic  for  Americans  to  avail  themselves  of 
such  licenses,  but  nevertheless  a  number  of  our  mer- 
chants made  the  venture,  while  others  sent  cargoes 
without  the  protection  of  licenses.    British  cruisers 
were  especially  watchful  for  the  latter  class,  and  in 
some  instances  did  not  scruple  to  seize  the  cash  in 
vessels  returning  from  the  Peninsula  with  a  British 
license.    An  American  paper  of  1813  notes  that  "  fif- 
teen or  twenty  semi-American  vessels  with  British 
licenses  have  been  condemned  at  Bermuda.    A  grand 
double  speculation  of  the  enemy;  in  first  selling  the 


licenses,  and  then  making  good  prizes  of  those  that 
had  them!" 

The  commander  of  the  Plumper  was  particularly 
successful  in  this  line  of  work.  He  took  from  eight 
to  ten  of  our  merchantmen.  From  one  of  them  he 
helped  himself  to  two  thousand  one  hundred  dollars 
in  specie,  from  another  two  thousand  three  hundred 
dollars,  and  from  a  third  five  thousand  three  hun- 
dred dollars.  In  almost  every  case  vessels  despoiled 
in  this  way  were  allowed  to  proceed  after  being 
relieved  of  their  cash,  possibly  in  the  hope  that  their 
owners  might  renew  the  venture.  Even  larger 
amounts  of  specie  are  recorded  as  having  been  taken 
from  such  American  traders.  The  Maria,  of  New 
York,  for  instance,  was  stopped  by  the  Vixen  and 
relieved  of  thirty  thousand  dollars;  the  Nautilus, 
from  Oporto,  was  fleeced  of  twelve  thousand  dollars 
by  the  frigate  Spartan,  which  also  took  the  same 
amount  out  of  the  Hiram,  from  Lisbon;  seven  thou- 
sand dollars  from  the  brig  Jew,  and  twelve  thou- 
sand dollars  from  the  brig  Mary.  The  frigate  Melam- 
pus  took  thirty-two  thousand  dollars  out  of  one 
ship,  and  twenty-two  thousand  dollars  were  taken 
in  the  Cordelia  by  the  Emulous.  Notwithstanding 
these  seizures,  some  five  million  dollars  arrived  in 
American  ports  from  Lisbon  during  the  first  six 
weeks  of  the  war.  How  much  the  British  naval 
commander  respected  these  licenses  is  shown  in  the 
following  extract  from  a  contemporary  newspaper: 
"  May  22,  1813.— The  ship  Action,  of  and  for  Boston 
from  Cadiz,  though  protected  by  a  'real  genuine 
Prince  Regent's  license/  was  captured  off  our  coast 
by  the  74-gun  ship  of  the  line  La  Hague.  Her  cap- 
tain, the  '  honorable '  Thomas  Blanden  Capel,  plun- 
dered the  brig  Charles,  also  with  a  license,  and  would 
have  burnt  her,  but  thought  it  best  to  give  her  up 
to  get  rid  of  his  prisoners,  and  she  has  arrived  at 
Boston.  He  said  he  was  determined  to  destroy 
every  vessel  that  had  a  license,  and  if  his  Govern- 

1813.  CASE  OF  THE  MAKGABET.  245 

ment  would  not  put  a  stop  to  the  use  of  them,  the 
navy  should  do  it." 

Judge  Story,  of  the  United  States  Circuit  Court, 
sitting  at  Boston,  June,  1813,  in  an  elaborate  opin- 
ion, decreed  the  condemnation  of  an  American  ves- 
sel sailing  under  a  British  license  on  the  general 
principle  of  being  denaturalized  by  the  acceptance 
of  the  license.  About  the  same  time  Judge  Croke, 
of  Halifax,  adjudged,  in  the  case  of  the  brig  Orion, 
Captain  Jubin,  from  New  York  bound  for  Lisbon, 
with  a  license  and  captured  by  the  British  block- 
ading vessels  and  sent  into  Halifax,  that  the  vessel 
and  cargo  be  restored  to  her  owner;  "that  the 
license  having  been  granted  previous  to  the  block- 
ade, it  protected  her  and  all  vessels  from  condemna- 
tion with  such  a  license,  although  they  should  be 
captured  departing  from  such  blockaded  ports  in 
the  United  States." 

This  peculiar  weakness  of  British  naval  com- 
manders on  the  North  American  station — namely, 
that  of  taking  all  the  cash  out  of  a  prize  and  allow- 
ing the  vessel  itself,  with  her  cargo,  to  depart  in 
peace — has  an  explanation  from  one  of  the  com- 
manders himself  which  is  almost  as  singular  as  the 
practice.  When  the  Margaret  was  recaptured  by  the 
Teaser,  as  just  narrated,  two  letters  were  found 
aboard  her  written  by  Captain  Bray.  The  free-and- 
easy  commander  of  the  Plumper,  in  one  of  these  let- 
ters, refreshingly  explains  his  penchant  for  ready 
cash  as  follows:  "Finding  some  few  dollars  in  the 
brig  [one  of  his  quasi  prizes]  which  I  have  taken, 
I  thought  it  more  wise  to  take  them  out,  as  there  is 
no  difficulty  in  sharing  them,  and  our  people  are 
very  poor,  some  of  them  having  had  no  money  for 
these  nine  years  past."  In  the  light  of  Captain 
Bray's  statement,  that  "  some  of  them  [the  English 
sailors]  having  had  no  money  for  these  nine  years," 
we  can  readily  believe  the  statement  published  in 
a  Baltimore  paper  under  date  of  April  10,  1813:  "  A 


number  of  British  seamen,  from  thirty  to  fifty,  have 
lately  escaped  from  the  [British  blockading]  squad- 
ron. One  poor  fellow  had  not  been  on  shore  for 
thirteen  years,  during  which  time  he  had  never  re- 
ceived one  cent  of  pay  or  prize  money."  Some  of  the 
other  prizes  made  by  the  Teaser  were  the  brig  Ann, 
which  was  sent  in,  and  the  brig  Peter,  from  New- 
castle for  Halifax,  with  a  full  cargo  of  British  mer- 
chandise, which  arrived  safely  in  Portland  in  the 
latter  part  of  August,  1812.  In  all  the  Teazer  cap- 
tured two  ships,  six  brigs,  and  six  schooners,  all  but 
one  reaching  port.1 

On  July  29,  1813,  the  President  ordered  all  our 
navy  officers  to  exercise  the  greatest  vigilance  in 
capturing  American  vessels  engaged,  or  suspected 
of  being  engaged,  in  carrying  provisions  to  the 
enemy.  On  August  5,  1813,  the  Secretary  of  War 
directed  that  "  all  officers  of  the  army  of  the  United 
States  commanding  districts,  forts,  or  fortresses  are 
commanded  to  turn  back,  and,  in  case  of  any  attempt 
to  evade  this  order,  to  detain  all  vessels,  or  river  or 
bay  craft,  which  may  be  suspected  of  proceeding  to 
or  communicating  with,  any  station,  vessel,  squad- 
ron, or  fleet  of  the  enemy  within  the  waters  of  the 
United  States."2  In  September,  1813,  the  Ameri- 
cans fitted  out  the  three-masted  vessel  Timothy  Pick- 
ering at  Gloucester  to  cruise  after  "licensed  ves- 

Another  instance  of  the  respect  with  which  Eng- 
lish officers  treated  American  vessels  protected  by 
British  licenses  is  had  in  the  following  account  pub- 
lished in  a  Boston  paper  August  4, 1813:  "  The  ship 
Fair  American,  Captain  Weathers,  which  arrived 
here  Monday  from  Lisbon,  was  boarded  on  the  26th 
of  July  in  latitude  42°,  longitude  64°  from  his  Bri- 
tannic Majesty's  frigate  Maidstone,  Captain  Burdett, 

1  For  the  subsequent  remarkable  career  of  the  Teazer,  see  preface. 
9  C.  K  Gardner,  assistant  adjutant-general. 

1813.  CAPTAIN  BUffcDETT'S  BRUTALITY.  24:7 

after  a  chase  of  seventeen  hours,  and  the  following 
particulars  respecting  the  infamous  treatment  re- 
ceived from  Captain  Burdett  were  noted  by  the  pas- 
sengers, and  are  published  at  their  request:  'At 
nine  o'clock  in  the  morning  we  were  brought  to  and 
hailed  by  Captain  Burdett,  who  stood  in  the  main 
rigging,  as  follows:  "Where  are  you  from?"  An- 
swer, "  From  Lisbon."  "  Why  did  you  not  heave  to 
and  not  run  me  so  far  out  of  my  way?"  Answer, 
"I  understood  there  was  a  French  squadron  out,  and 
I  thought  you  might  have  been  one  of  them."  To 
which  Burdett  replied,  "You  have  heard  no  such 
thing,  sir.  You  are  a  liar — you  are  a  damned  liar, 
sir — and  your  country  are  a  damned  set  of  liars — 
you  are  a  nation  of  liars!"  and  repeated  the  same 
several  times  over.  He  then  continued,  "  I  will  cut 
your  cabin  to  pieces.  Lower  your  topsail  down,  sir! 
Get  a  bag  of  dollars  ready  to  pay  for  the  shot  I  have 
hove  at  you — they  were  the  king's  shot,  sir.  You  are 
&n  enemy,  sir  "  (twice  repeated),  "  for  you  have  no 
license  from  my  Government,  sir,  or  you  would  not 
have  run  away  from  me."  He  then  repeated  over 
several  of  the  above  blackguard  expressions,  and 
ordered  Captain  Weathers  to  come  on  board  with 
his  papers,  which  he  complied  with,  and  while  there 
was  grossly  insulted  with  the  foulest  language.' " 

"The  brig  Despatch,"  records  a  contemporary 
periodical,  "  a  licensed  vessel  belonging  to  Boston, 
was  captured  on  the  coast  by  the  privateer  Casti- 
gator,  regularly  commissioned,  of  Salem.  News  of 
the  incident  having  reached  the  owners  of  the  Des- 
patch, they  fitted  out  two  boats  and  filled  them  with 
about  fifty  armed  men  for  the  avowed  purpose  of 
retaking  the  brig,  then  in  the  bay.  Anticipating 
this  attack,  the  people  in  the  privateer  sent  aboard 
the  Despatch  a  quantity  of  arms  and  ammunition  to 
the  prize  master  and  his  crew,  with  instructions 
to  resist  to  the  last.  The  boats  approached.  They 
were  warned  to  keep  off,  but,  persisting  in  closing, 

248     "BRITISH  LICENSES"  AND  BE  VENUE  CUTTERS.      1813. 

a  hot  fire  was  opened  on  both  sides.    By  making  a 
dash  the  men  in  the  boats  succeeded  in  recapturing 
the  Despatch,  and,  confining  the  prize  master  and  his 
men  in  the  hold,  made  sail  for  Boston.    On  entering 
the  harbor  the  brig  was  stopped  by  a  shot  from  the 
fort,  taken  possession  of  by  the  garrison  and  turned 
over  to  the  customhouse  officers.     She  was  then 
libelled  by  the  owners  of  the  privateers.    The  leaders 
in  the  recapture  were  arrested  and  examined  before 
Judge  Davis,  of  the  United  States  District  Court." 
"  Their  counsel,"  says  the  Boston  Chronicle,  "  first 
endeavored  to  soften  the  affair  into  a  riot,  and  sec- 
ondly to  show  that,  as  the  alleged  offense  was  com- 
mitted within  the  county  of  Suffolk,  that  the  United 
States  district  courts  had  no  jurisdiction  over  the 
case.    Without  attending  much  to  the  first,  as  being 
of  little  consequence  at  the  time,  the  judge  of  course 
repelled  the  latter  plea  and  held  the  parties  to  bail. 
After  the  defendants  had  been  recognized,  inquiry 
being  made  for  the  witnesses  who  had  testified  on 
behalf  of  the  United  States,  that  they  might  be 
recognized,  as  usual,  information  was  given  that 
some  of  them  had  during  the  trial  been  arrested  by 
the  State  authorities  to  answer  for  their  conduct 
before  the  State  courts.    The  honorable  judge  ex- 
pressed a  strong  disapprobation  of  such  a  hasty  pro- 
cedure, and  observed  that  it  was  by  no  means  the 
mode  of  ascertaining  and  deciding  the  rights  of  the 
parties  in  that  stage.    The  privateersmen  were  held 
under  recognizance  by  the  State  courts."    One  of 
these  men  proved  to  be  an  "  alien  enemy,"  and  was 
seized  by  a  marshal  and  lodged  in  the  guard  ship  to 
the  end  of  the  war.     The  Oastigator  also  took  the 
Liverpool  Packet,  Captain  Richards,  from  Lisbon  for 
Boston,  but  the  prize  was  released. 

In  the  first  few  weeks  of  the  war  several  prizes 
were  made  by  our  revenue  cutters.  The  Madison, 
Saptain  George  Brooks,  returned  to  Savannah,  July 
24,  1812,  with  a  British  snow  mounting  six  guns,  6- 

1812-1813.      CAPTURES  BY  REVENUE  CUTTERS.  249 

and  9-pounders,  and  manned  by  fourteen  men.  She 
was  from  Liverpool,  making  for  Amelia  Island,  and 
had  a  quantity  of  small  arms  and  ammunition 
aboard.  The  Madison  also  took  the  300-ton  brig 
Shamrock,  carrying  six  guns  and  sixteen  men,  which 
was  sent  into  Savannah.  The  revenue  cutter  Gal- 
latin,  Captain  Edward  Herbert,  took  the  brig  Gen- 
eral Blake,  August  10, 1812,  while  sailing  under  Span- 
ish colors,  and  sent  her  into  Charleston.1  A  few 
months  later,  or  on  April  1,  1813,  the  Gallatin,  then 
commanded  by  Captain  John  H.  Silliman,  was  de- 
stroyed by  an  explosion  of  her  magazine  while  lying 
in  Charleston  harbor,  South  Carolina.  The  cutter 
had  arrived  only  the  day  before  from  a  short  cruise 
down  the  coast  and  had  anchored  off  the  town.  Soon 
afterward  Captain  Silliman  w,ent  ashore,  leaving 
orders  for  all  the  muskets  and  pistols  which  were 
kept  in  the  cabin  to  be  thoroughly  cleaned.  Of  the 
thirty-five  men  on  board  when  the  explosion  oc- 
curred ten  of  them  were  in  the  cabin  or  on  the 
quarter-deck  engaged  in  carrying  out  their  com- 
mander's orders.  "Thus  situated  the  dreadful 
explosion  took  place,  and  in  an  instant  the  whole 
quarter-deck  of  the  vessel,  with  all  those  upon  it, 
were  hurled  into  the  air.  Some  of  the  bodies  were 
thrown  nearly  as  high  as  the  masthead  of  the  ves- 
sel; others  were  driven  through  the  cabin  and  lodged 
upon  the  main  deck.  The  whole  stern  of  the  vessel 
was  torn  down  to  a  level  with  the  water;  the  main- 
sail, which  had  been  hoisted  to  dry,  was  torn  to  rags, 
and  the  fragments  of  broken  spars  were  scattered 
in  all  directions.  As  soon  as  the  accident  had  hap- 
pened, boats  put  off  from  the  wharves  and  from  the 
vessels  near  by  to  the  relief  of  the  crew. 

"  An  attempt  was  made  to  slip  the  cables  and  run 
her  into  one  of  the  docks  to  prevent  her  from  sink- 

i  For  the  capture  of  the  revenue  cutter  Surveyor,  see  Madams  History 
of  the  Navy,  vol.  i,  pp.  586,  587. 

250       "BRITISH  LICENSES"  AND  REVENUE  CUTTERS.      1813. 

ing,  but  before  this  could  be  fully  accomplished  the 
fire  in  the  cabin  had  communicated  with  the  main- 
sail and  main  rigging,  at  the  same  time  the  vessel 
was  found  to  be  filling  very  fast.  In  this  extremity 
the  wounded  men  were  hastened  into  the  boats 
alongside,  and  by  the  time  the  persons  on  board 
could  leave  her  she  went  down  sternforemost,  a 
few  yards  from  the  head  of  Blake's  Wharf.  The 
bodies  of  three  of  the  unfortunate  sufferers  were 
never  seen;  and  happier  would  it  have  been  for  some 
of  those  who  were  brought  on  shore  if  they  had 
shared  their  fate,  as  they  can  not  survive  the  dread- 
ful wounds  and  bruises  which  they  have  received. 
It  has  been  found  impossible,  after  the  most  diligent 
inquiries,  to  ascertain  the  manner  in  which  fire  was 
communicated  to  the  magazine;  the  persons  imme- 
diately adjoining  the  cabin  steps  where  the  door 
opened  from  the  cabin  to  the  magazine  were  de- 
stroyed." 1  First  Lieutenant  Philips,  of  the  Gallatin, 
had  left  the  cutter  only  a  few  minutes  before  the 
explosion  took  place,  the  magazine  being  locked  and 
the  key  being  in  a  drawer  in  the  cabin.  The  only 
other  person  of  the  vessel's  complement  who  had 
any  business  with  this  key,  besides  the  captain  and 
Lieutenant  Philips,  was  the  gunner,  and  he  was 
known  to  have  been  on  deck  at  the  time  of  the  dis- 
aster. No  satisfactory  explanation  of  the  accident 
has  ever  been  made. 

1  Charleston  Courier. 



Two  distinguished  American  privateersmen  who 
got  to  sea  early  in  this  war  were  David  Maffitt  and 
Nathaniel  Shaler.  The  former,  at  the  beginning  of 
hostilities,  commanded  the  Atlas,  carrying  twelve 
short  9-pounders  and  one  long  9-pounder,with  a  com- 
plement of  one  hundred  and  four  men.  The  Atlas, 
early  in  July,  1812,  cleared  the  Capes  of  the  Dela- 
ware, and  when  two  days  out  she  overhauled  the  brig 
Tulip,  Captain  Monk,  just  out  from  New  York.  The 
Tulip  carried  one  of  the  British  licenses  referred  to  in 
the  preceding  chapter,  and  had  on  board  one  thou- 
sand four  hundred  barrels  of  flour  and  a  quantity  of 
salt  beef.  Suspecting  that  this  cargo  might  be  for 
the  enemy,  Maffitt  pretended  to  be  sailing  under  Eng- 
lish colors,  and  kept  up  the  delusion  so  well  that  the 
commander  of  the  Tulip  was  satisfied  that  the  Atlas 
was  an  English  and  not  an  American  privateer. 
Acting  on  this  belief,  Captain  Monk  said  that  he 
ought  not  to  be  detained,  as  he  had  dispatches  from 
"  Mr.  Foster,"  and  then  the  commander  of  the  Tulip 
showed  his  "  British  license." 

"  These  papers,"  said  Captain  Maffitt,  "  are  quite 
satisfactory;  and  now,  instead  of  sending  you  into 
a  British  port,  I  will  send  you  into  the  port  of  Phila- 
delphia." He  then  placed  five  men  and  a  prize  mas- 
ter aboard  the  Tulip,  who  carried  the  brig  safely 
into  that  port.  "  We  heard  of  a  contract,"  said  a 
Philadelphia  newspaper  of  that  day,  "  made  at  New 




York  by  Mr.  Foster,  and  also  one  at  Philadelphia, 
to  supply  the  British  armies  [in  Spain]  with  flour, 
etc.,  under  British  licenses,  and  we  were  in  hopes 
that  the  ingenuity,  enterprise,  and  management  of 
our  privateersmen  would  discover  the  traitors  who 
were  thus  adhering  to  our  enemies,  giving  them  aid 
and  comfort.  Captain  Maffitt  deserves  and  will 
have  the  thanks  of  his  fellow-citizens  for  the  adroit- 
ness and  judgment  with  which  he  captured  the 


Continuing  his  cruise  after  his  interception  of 
the  Tulip,  Captain  Maffitt,  at  half  past  eight  o'clock 
on  the  morning  of  August  5th — or  two  weeks  before 
the  first  frigate  action  of  the  war — discovered  two 
sails  to  the  west  standing  northeast,  and  he  im- 
mediately tacked  southward  to  reconnoiter.  The 
Atlas  Sit  that  time  was  in  latitude  37°  50'  north  and 
longitude  46°  west.  An  hour  later  she  tacked  north- 
ward, and  when  satisfied  he  had  merchantmen  to 
deal  with  Captain  Maffitt  beat  to  quarters  and 
cleared  for  action.  At  half  past  ten  o'clock  the 
Atlas  bore  away  for  both  ships,  and,  showing  Ameri- 
can colors,  prepared  to  close  with  them. 

Quarter  of  an  hour  later  the  smaller  ship  opened 
fire  on  the  privateer  and  hoisted  English  colors,  her 
example  being  followed  a  few  minutes  later  by  her 
consort.  Captain  Maffitt,  however,  reserved  his  fire, 
as  he  was  anxious  to  come  to  close  quarters  imme- 
diately. At  eleven  o'clock,  having  placed  his  vessel 
between  the  two  English  ships,  he  opened  with  a 
broadside  from  each  battery,  which  was  followed  up 
with  volleys  of  musketry.  The  effect  of  the  priva- 
teer's cannon  fire  at  such  close  quarters  was  ter- 
rific, and  in  an  hour  the  smaller  ship  hauled  her 
colors  down.  This  enabled  Captain  Maffitt  to  devote 
his  entire  attention  to  the  larger  ship,  which  had 
been  making  a  gallant  fight  and  was  keeping  up  a 
destructive  fire.  Scarcely  had  the  Atlas  turned  from 
the  smaller  ship,  however,  when,  to  the  surprise  of 

1812.       CAPTURE  OF  THE  PURSUIT  AND  PLANTER.        253 

the  Americans,  the  latter  opened  fire  again,  notwith- 
standing the  fact  that  she  had  surrendered  and  her 
colors  were  down.  Captain  Maffltt  reopened  on  this 
vessel,  and  in  a  few  minutes  drove  every  man  below 

All  this  time  a  heavy  fire  had  been  kept  up  by 
the  Americans  from  their  opposite  battery  on  the 
larger  ship,  and  it  was  seen  that  she  was  suffering 
heavily.  At  twenty  minutes  past  twelve  her  flag 
came  down,  upon  which  a  prize  crew  was  placed 
aboard  her  and  her  people  disarmed.  She  was  the 
Pursuit,  a  vessel  of  four  hundred  and  fifty  tons,  car- 
rying sixteen  guns  and  a  crew  of  thirty-five  men. 
A  prize  crew  also  was  sent  aboard  the  second  ship, 
the  Planter.  She  was  of  two  hundred  and  eighty 
tons  burden,  and  carried  twelve  12-pounders  and  a 
crew  of  fifteen  men.  Both  ships  were  thirty  days 
out  from  Surinam  for  London,  laden  with  a  cargo 
of  coffee,  cotton,  cocoa,  and  six  hundred  hogsheads 
of  sugar. 

In  this  action  the  Atlas  was  badly  cut  up  in  her 
rigging  and  spars.  Every  one  of  her  shrouds  on  the 
port  side  was  carried  away,  which,  with  the  loss 
of  other  standing  rigging  and  the  foreyard,  placed 
her  masts  in  a  critical  condition.  Two  of  her  crew 
had  been  killed  and  five  were  wounded.  In  view  of 
the  shattered  condition  of  his  vessel,  Captain  Maffitt 
determined  to  make  for  the  first  port  in  the  United 
States  and  refit.  Taking  the  crews  of  both  the  Pur- 
suit and  the  Planter  aboard  the  Atlas  for  safer  keep- 
ing, he  headed  southward,  with  his  prizes  in  com- 

For  nearly  a  month  the  three  vessels  continued 
on  their  voyage  westward  without  molestation,  but 
at  half  past  four  o'clock  on  the  morning  of  Septem- 
ber 2d  a  large  ship  was  discovered  to  the  east  stand- 
ing southward.  An  hour  later  it  was  seen  that  she 
was  a  frigate,  and  shortly  afterward  she  tacked 
and  gave  chase  to  the  three  vessels.  Believing 


her  to  be  an  Englishman,  Captain  Maffitt  promptly 
bore  down  and  directed  the  prize  master  of  the  Pur- 
suit  to  tack  southward  and  make  the  first  port  he 
could.  The  Atlas  then  ran  close  to  the  Planter  and 
told  her  prize  master  that  in  all  probability  the 
frigate  was  an  enemy,  and  ordered  him  to  sail  north- 
ward, Captain  Maffitt  deciding  to  take  his  chances 
with  the  frigate  alone. 

By  ten  o'clock  the  Pursuit  was  out  of  sight  to  the 
south;  but  instead  of  singling  out  the  Atlas,  as  was 
expected,  the  frigate  made  for  the  Planter,  and  by 
eleven  o'clock  it  was  seen  that  she  was  fast  coming 
up  with  her.  Captain  Maffitt  now  backed  his  main 
topsail  and  awaited  developments.  At  half  past 
one  o'clock  the  frigate  opened  on  the  Planter  with 
her  bow  chasers,  and  at  the  fifth  shot  obliged  her 
to  heave  to.  Observing  that  the  frigate  was  flying 
English  colors,  and  realizing  that  he  could  be  of  no 
possible  assistance  to  his  late  prize,  Captain  Maffitt 
made  sail  westward.  At  half  past  three  the  ships 
were  still  in  sight,  the  Planter  flying  American  colors 
at  the  mizzen  peak.  As  this  display  of  the  United 
States  ensign  on  the  Planter  could  easily  have  been 
resorted  to  by  an  English  frigate  as  a  ruse  for  de- 
coying the  privateer  under  her  guns,  Captain  Maffitt 
kept  on  his  course  and  gained  port.  Subsequently, 
he  learned  that  the  man-of-war  was,  in  truth,  an 
American,  the  32-gun  frigate  Essex,  Captain  David 
Porter.  Both  of  the  Atlas'  prizes  arrived  safely  in 

Befitting  after  her  first  successful  cruise,  the 
Atlas  got  to  sea  again;  but  Captain  Maffitt,  early  in 
the  summer  of  1813,  was  compelled  to  run  into  Ocra- 
coke  Inlet,  North  Carolina,  where  he  found  the  18- 
gun  privateer  Anaconda,  Captain  Nathaniel  Shaler, 
of  New  York.  Captain  Shaler,  like  Captain  Maffitt, 
was  one  of  the  successful  privateersmen  of  this 
struggle.  His  first  command  was  the  14 -gun 
schooner  Governor  TompUns,  of  New  York,  but  owned 


principally  by  people  living  in  Baltimore.  TMs  ves- 
sel had  left  port  about  the  time  the  Atlas  made  her 
first  venture  and  had  met  with  some  success.  In 
order  to  relieve  himself  of  a  number  of  prisoners, 
Captain  Shaler  placed  them  aboard  a  whaler  from 
London,  bound  for  the  South  Sea.  The  whaler  had 
been  intercepted  by  the  Governor  TompUns  and 
ordered  to  Falmouth. 

In  chasing  the  whaler  Captain  Shaler  had  been 
drawn  some  distance  from  his  cruising  ground,  and, 
owing  to  calms,  did  not  regain  it  until  December 
25,  1812.  At  sunrise  on  that  day  Captain  Shaler 
discovered  three  ships  ahead  and  made  sail  in  chase. 
As  the  wind  was  light  the  privateer  came  up  to 
them  slowly,  but  it  was  not  long  before  they  were 
made  out  to  be  two  ships  and  a  brig.  There  was 
something  about  the  appearance  of  one  of  the  ships 
that  caused  Captain  Shaler  anxiety,  and  he  pre- 
pared to  act  with  more  caution.  He  noticed  that 
she  seemed  to  be  industriously  engaged  in  communi- 
cating with  her  consorts,  Boats  were  observed  to 
be  hurriedly  pulling  between  her  and  the  other  ves- 
sels. Besides  this,  she  had  boarding  nettings  almost 
up  to  her  tops,  with  her  topmast  studding  sail 
booms  out  and  sails  at  their  ends  ready  for  spread- 
ing. Her  ports  were  painted,  and  she  carried  some- 
thing on  her  deck  that  resembled  a  merchantman's 

Believing  her  to  be  a  large  transport,  Captain 
Shaler  was  approaching  cautiously  under  English 
colors,  when  suddenly,  at  three  o'clock  in  the  after- 
noon, a  squall  from  the  north  struck  the  privateer, 
and  as  the  supposed  transport  had  not  yet  felt  the 
wind  the  Americans  in  a  few  minutes  found  them- 
selves carried  within  a  quarter  of  a  mile  of  the 
stranger.  Captain  Shaler  had  done  his  best  to  get 
his  light  sails  in,  but  such  was  the  force  of  the  wind 
that  he  found  his  vessel  carried  toward  the  stranger 
almost  before  he  could  turn  round.  Just  before 


the  squall  struck  Mm  lie  had  told  First  Officer  Far- 
num  that  he  thought  the  stranger  too  heavy  to  be  a 
privateer,  and  he  ordered  the  first  officer  to  go  for- 
ward and  take  another  look  through  his  glass.  It 
was  then  that  the  stranger  showed  herself  to  be,  not 
a  transport,  but  a  first-class  frigate,  and,  tricing  up 
their  ports,  her  people  delivered  a  broadside  that 
killed  two  and  wounded  six  of  the  Americans,  one 
of  the  latter  mortally.  Among  the  wounded  was 
Mr.  Farnum.  Seeing  that  further  concealment  was 
unnecessary,  the  American  commander  hauled  down 
the  English  colors  and  sent  up  three  American  en- 
signs, and,  trimming  his  sails  by  the  wind,  began 
an  animated  fire  from  his  puny  battery. 

At  this  moment  the  privateer  was  a  little  abaft 
the  frigate's  beam,  and  for  Captain  Shaler  to  have 
attempted  to  tack  in  a  hard  squall  would  have  ex- 
posed him  to  a  raking  fire.  To  have  attempted  to 
tack  and  failing  to  do  so  would  have  placed  his 
schooner  hopelessly  within  the  power  of  her  huge 
antagonist.  Captain  Shaler,  therefore,  determined 
to  receive  the  enemy's  fire  on  the  tack  on  which  he 
had  been  standing,  hoping  to  outsail  the  frigate  and 
pass  beyond  her  bow,  where  he  would  not  be  exposed 
to  her  dreaded  broadside. 

The  Englishman  also  kept  on  the  same  tack,  and 
the  two  vessels  ran  along  side  by  side,  giving  and 
receiving  a  spirited  fire.  Unfortunately  for  Captain 
Shaler's  calculations,  the  English  frigate  proved  to 
be  a  remarkably  fast  sailer — almost  as  fast  as  the 
privateer— so  that  she  managed  to  keep  her  broad- 
side guns  playing  with  full  effect  on  the  chase  much 
longer  than  the  American  had  anticipated.  "  Such 
a  tune  as  was  played  round  nay  ears,"  wrote  Captain 
Shaler,  "  I  assure  you  I  never  wish  to  hear  again  in 
the  same  key." 

But  in  spite  of  the  terrific  fire  they  were  ex- 
posed to,  the  Americans  held  their  course,  with  their 
triple  colors  defiantly  flying  in  the  gale.  Almost  at 


her  first  fire,  a  shot  from  the  frigate  blew  up  one 
of  the  Governor  Tomplcins'  shot  boxes,  in  which  were 
two  9-pounder  cartridges.  Their  explosion  set  fire 
to  a  number  of  pistols  and  three  tube  boxes,  which 
were  lying  in  the  companion  way,  all  of  which  ex- 
ploded. Some  of  the  tubes  passed  through  a  crevice 
under  the  companion  leaf  and  fell  to  the  cabin  floor, 
near  the  entrance  to  the  magazine.  For  an  instant 
it  was  feared  that  the  ship  would  be  blown  up,  but 
fortunately  the  precaution  of  wetting  the  cabin 
floor  and  drenching  the  screen,  or  woolen  blanket 
over  the  hatch  leading  to  the  powder  room,  pre- 
vented any  further  explosion. 

Soon  after  this  a  heavy  shot  hit  a  colored  sea- 
man named  John  Thompson  on  the  hip,  taking  off 
both  legs  and  horribly  mutilating  the  lower  part  of 
his  body.  Notwithstanding  his  agony  he  lay  on  the 
deck,  and  before  he  died  he  exclaimed  several  times 
to  those  around  him,  "  Fire  away,  boys!  Nebber  haul 
de  colors  down."  Another  black  sailor,  named  John 
Davis,  was  mortally  hurt  in  much  the  same  way.  He 
fell  to  the  deck  near  where  Captain  Shaler  was 
standing,  and  requested  that  he  might  be  thrown 
overboard,  so  that  his  body  would  not  encumber  the 
working  of  the  guns. 

For  half  an  hour  the  Governor  TompJdns  was  sub- 
jected to  this  destructive  fire.  At  the  end  of  that 
time  she  began  to  draw  ahead  of  the  frigate  and  the 
enemy's  shot  gradually  fell  short.  At  half  past 
four,  however,  the  wind  died  away,  but  the  English 
ship  still  holding  a  good  breeze,  her  shot  again 
began  to  fly  unpleasantly  round  the  ears  of  the 
Americans.  Captain  Shaler  now  relieved  his 
schooner  of  all  the  lumber  on  her  deck  and  threw 
overboard  some  two  thousand  pounds  of  shot  from 
the  after  hold.  He  then  got  out  his  sweeps,  and,  set- 
ting all  hands  to  work,  gradually  drew  away  from 
"one  of  the  most  quarrelsome  companions  that  I 
ever  met,"  as  he  grimly  expressed  it. 

258  CAPTAINS  MAPFITT  AND  SEALER.        1812-1814. 

Finding  that  he  was  steadily  losing  ground,  the 
English  ship,  at  5.25  P.  M.,  hove  about  and  returned 
to  her  consorts.  Prom  information  subsequently 
gained,  Captain  Shaler  believed  that  his  "quarrel- 
some foe  "  was  the  British  frigate  Laurel,  one  of  the 
ships  manned  and  fitted  expressly  to  cope  with  the 
heavy  American  44-gun  frigates.  The  Laurel  was 
reputed  to  be  one  of  the  fastest  sailers  in  the  long 
list  of  British  frigates. 

Returning  from  this  cruise  Captain  Shaler  as- 
sumed the  command  of  the  13-gun  brig  Anaconda,  of 
New  York.  The  subsequent  career  of  the  G-overnor 
Tompkins  was  one  fraught  with  riches  for  her  men 
and  owners.  Among  her  commanders  was  Captain 
J.  Skinner,  and  among  the  prizes  was  the  Nereid, 
which  was  sold  in  New  York,  the  gross  receipts,  ex- 
clusive of  jewelry,  amounting  to  two  hundred  and 
seventy  thousand  dollars.  Other  prizes  taken  by  this 
favorite  ship  were  the  brig  Ajax,  mounting  two  guns, 
from  which  a  quantity  of  valuable  drygoods  was 
taken;  the  2-gun  brig  Hartley,  from  Gibraltar  for  San 
Salvador,  which  was  burned;  and  the  brig  Young  Hus- 
band, laden  with  drygoods,  hardware,  etc.,  from  Bris- 
tol for  Madeira,  which  was  sent  into  Newport.  Of 
these  prizes  the  Nereid  was  the  most  valuable.  She 
was  of  two  hundred  and  eighty  tons  burden  and  car- 
ried ten  guns.  She  was  taken  off  Madeira,  from  Lon- 
don for  Buenos  Ayres,  and  had  on  board  two  hun- 
dred and  fifty  bales  of  drygoods,  two  hundred  and 
sixty-three  packages  and  trunks  of  the  same,  one 
hundred  and  fifty  casks,  hogsheads,  and  tierces  of 
hardware  and  jewelry,  eight  hundred  and  sixty-nine 
bundles  of  iron  hoops,  eighty  bars  of  iron,  and  a 
quantity  of  coal,  the  entire  cargo  being  valued  at 
seventy-five  thousand  pounds.  In  February,  1814, 
the  Governor  Tompkins  captured  a  whaler  bound  to 
the  South  Sea,  which  was  divested  and  turned  into 
a  cartel.  In  March  of  the  same  year  she  took  the 
brig  Henry,  of  six  guns,  which  was  sent  into  New 


York  and  sold  for  two  hundred  thousand  dollars. 
In  a  brief  cruise  in  the  English  Channel  the  Governor 
TompUns  made  ten  prizes.  In  her  entire  career  she 
made  twenty  prizes,  three  of  which  were  valued  at 
half  a  million  dollars. 

Captain  Shaler's  career  in  the  Anaconda  was 
marked  at  the  outset  by  an  occurrence  which  well 
illustrates  the  disadvantages  of  having  our  com- 
merce destroyers  under  private  management. 
While  off  Cape  Cod,  January  16,  1813,  the  Anaconda, 
through  lack  of  a  good  system  of  signaling  between 
our  Government  war  ships  and  the  privateers,  mis- 
took the  United  States  war  schooner  Commodore  Hull 
for  an  enemy,  and  fired  a  broadside  into  her  before 
the  mistake  was  discovered.  By  this  fire  the  com- 
mander of  the  Commodore  Hull,  Lieutenant  H.  S.  New- 
comb,  was  seriously  wounded.  First  Officer  Bur- 
bank,  of  the  Anaconda,  was  blamed  for  the  mistake, 
but  on  court-martial  the  privateer's  people  were  re- 
lieved from  responsibility  in  the  matter. 

Making  for  European  waters,  the  Anaconda,  on 
May  14,  1813,  while  in  the  latitude  of  the  Cape  de 
Verde  Islands,  fell  in  with  the  British  packet  ship 
Express,  a  brig  carrying  eleven  12-pounders  and  a 
crew  of  thirty-eight  men.  She  was  from  Bio  de 
Janeiro  bound  for  England,  having  on  board  eighty 
thousand  dollars  in  specie  and  two  hundred  and 
thirty  stands  of  muskets.  In  the  sharp  action  of 
thirty-five  minutes  that  followed  the  Englishmen 
made  a  brave  resistance,  but  finally  were  overcome, 
having  their  spars  and  rigging  much  cut  and  five 
feet  of  water  in  their  hold.  The  prize,  after  the 
specie  and  valuables  were  taken  out  of  her,  was  ran- 
somed for  eight  thousand  dollars.  Soon  afterward 
the  Anaconda  seized  the  8-gun  brig  Mary,  from  Gi- 
braltar for  Brazil,  having  on  board  wine  and  silks 
valued  at  thirty-five  thousand  dollars.  This  prize 
was  sent  into  New  Haven.  In  the  same  month,  June, 
Captain  Shaler  captured  the  brig  Harriet,  from 




Buenos  Ayres  for  London,  laden  with  hides  and  tal- 
low, invoiced  at  one  hundred  thousand  dollars.  This 
vessel  was  carried  into  New  Bedford.  The  estimated 


Map  of  Albemarle  and  Paralico  Sounds. 

value  of  all  the  A.naconda?s  prizes  was  two  hundred 
and  fifteen  thousand  dollars.  Early  in  July  Captain 
Shaler  ran  into  Ocracoke  Inlet,  where  he  found  the 
Atlas,  as  we  have  seen. 

1818.         THE  ANACONDA  AND  ATLAS  CAPTURED.  261 

On  the  night  of  July  12, 1813,  Bear- Admiral  Cock- 
burn  appeared  off  this  inlet  with  the  74-gun  ship 
of  the  line  Sceptre,  the  frigates  Romulus,  Fox9  and 
Nemesis,  the  war  brig  Conflict,  and  the  tenders  High- 
flyer and  Cockchafer,  having  on  board  about  five  hun- 
dred men  of  the  One  Hundred  and  Third  Eegiment 
and  a  detachment  of  artillery,  for  the  purpose  of 
destroying  these  two  privateers,  which  Cockburn 
had  learned  had  taken  refuge  there.  As  this  power- 
ful squadron  approached  the  inlet  the  masts  of  the 
Atlas  and  Anaconda  were  plainly  seen,  and  the  enemy 
at  once  made  preparations  for  an  attack.  At  2  A.  M. 
on  the  13th  the  troops  embarked  in  boats,  and,  under 
the  escort  of  the  light-draft  tenders  and  the  Conflict, 
made  toward  the  shore  in  three  divisions.  Owing 
to  the  heavy  ocean  swell  and  the  great  distance  at 
which  the  heavier  vessels  were  obliged  to  anchor 
from  the  beach,  the  division  under  Lieutenant  West- 
phal,  of  the  Sceptre,  did  not  land  until  daylight, 
which  deprived  the  enemy  of  the  advantages  of  a 
night  attack. 

Having  arranged  their  plan  of  attack,  the  British 
boats,  under  cover  of  a  rapid  discharge  of  rockets, 
doubled  the  point  of  land  behind  which  the  priva- 
teers were  anchored,  and  dashed  toward  them  in 
gallant  style.  Eealizing  that  it  would  be  madness 
to  oppose  the  overwhelming  force  that  was  advanc- 
ing upon  him,  Captain  Shaler  cut  his  cables  and  got 
ashore  with  his  men,  the  British  taking  possession 
of  the  Anaconda  without  opposition.  The  guns  of 
that  vessel  were  now  turned  upon  the  Atlas,  and 
Captain  Maffitt,  seeing  the  uselessness  of  resistance, 
surrendered.  Elated  with  their  easy  capture  of 
these  two  formidable  privateers,  the  enemy  advanced 
against  the  village  of  Portsmouth,  seizing  that  place, 
and  were  preparing  to  attack  New  Berne,  when  they 
learned  that  vigorous  measures  were  being  taken 
by  the  inhabitants  to  repel  an  assault.  The  project 
against  New  Berne  was  abandoned,  and,  after  hold- 

CAPTAIN'S  MAFFITT  AND  SEALER.        1813-1814. 

ing  Portsmouth  two  days,  the  enemy  retired  to  their 
ships  and  sailed  away.  Both  the  Atlas  and  the  Ana- 
conda were  taken  into  the  British  navy,  the  latter 
retaining  her  name  and  the  former  rechristened 
St.  Lawrence.  The  St.  Lawrence,  as  will  be  shown 
in  another  chapter,1  was  recaptured,  after  one  of  the 
most  brilliant  actions  of  the  war,  by  the  Americans. 
The  Highflyer,  also  one  of  the  vessels  engaged  in  this 
affair,  was  captured  on  the  23d  of  the  following  Sep- 
tenrber  by  the  American  44-gun  frigate  President, 
Captain  John  Rodgers.  The  Highflyer  at  that  time 
was  commanded  by  Lieutenant  George  Hutchinson. 

Captain  Shaler  did  not  get  to  sea  again  as  a  com- 
mander of  an  American  privateer;  but  Captain  Maf- 
fitt,  notwithstanding  the  loss  of  his  ship,  soon  se- 
cured the  command  of  the  splendid  16-gun  brig  Rat- 
tlesnake, and  in  company  with  the  privateer  Scourge, 
Captain  Samuel  Nicoll,  a  native  of  Stratford,  Con- 
necticut, made  one  of  the  most  successful  ventures  of 
the  war;  the  Rattlesnake  alone  sending  into  Norway 
one  million  dollars'  worth  of  prizes.  The  Scourge  had 
sailed  from  New  York  in  April,  1813,  for  a  cruise  on 
the  north  coast  of  England.  After  taking  a  number 
of  prizes  Captain  Nicoll,  on  July  19th,  while  off  Cape 
North,  fell  in  with  the  United  States  44-gun  frigate 
President,  Captain  John  Eodgers,  and  cruised  in  her 
company  some  time.  A  number  of  British  vessels 
sailing  to  and  from  Archangel  were  secured,  most 
of  them  being  sent  into  Norwegian  ports. 

Soon  after  parting  from  the  President  the  Scourge 
met  the  Rattlesnake,  and,  having  a  number  of  prison- 
ers aboard,  both  privateers  ran  into  Drontheim, 
where  Captain  Nicoll  went  ashore  to  attend  to  the 
sale  of  his  prizes,  while  the  Scourge  was  refitted  and 
went  to  sea,  in  the  following  spring,  under  the  com- 
mand of  her  first  officer,  J.  K.  Perry.  This  was  on 
March  10,  1814,  and  on  April  1st,  while  off  Cape 

1  See  pages  295-300. 

1814.  THE  WELL-NAMED  SCOURGE.  263 

Wrath,  the  privateer  took  the  Symmetry,  a  fine  vessel 
from  Liverpool,  coppered,  and  laden  with  salt, 
crates,  hardware,  etc.  This  vessel  was  in  company 
with  the  ship  Winchester  and  the  brig  Union,  both  of 
which  were  soon  taken  by  the  nimble  Scourge.  These 
vessels  were  bound  for  Long  Hope,  where  they  were 
to  get  a  convoy.  Having  taken  out  the  most  valu- 
able goods,  Captain  Perry  burned  the  vessels  and 
placed  the  prisoners  aboard  a  Swedish  ship. 

The  Scourge  hovered  on  the  English  coast  some 
time.  On  April  7th  she  chased  a  Greenland  whaler 
and  fired  ten  broadsides  into  her,  and  undoubtedly 
would  have  captured  her  had  not  a  sloop  of  war 
close  inshore  given  chase.  For  six  hours  it  was  a 
hard  run,  but  the  privateer  finally  escaped,  although 
she  strained  her  fore-topmast  A  week  later,  while 
in  a  moderate  breeze,  both  her  topmasts  were  carried 
away,  the  wreckage  killing  one  man  and  wounding 
three.  This  mishap,  however,  did  not  prevent  the 
Scourge  from  refitting  at  sea  and  continuing  her 
cruise.  On  May  9th  she  boarded  the  American  priva- 
teer Fox,  Captain  Brown,  of  Portsmouth,  New  Hamp- 
shire, forty  days  out.  The  Fox,  it  seems,  had  made 
four  prizes,  two  of  which  had  been  destroyed,  the 
other  two  being  ordered  into  port.  Captain  Brown 
at  one  time  had  been  hotly  pursued  by  a  British 
frigate,  and,  though  effecting  his  escape,  he  had  beer 
obliged  to  throw  overboard  ten  of  his  guns.  Sub 
sequently  he  chased  a  vessel  which  he  took  to  be  a 
merchantman,  and  did  not  discover  she  was  2 
sloop  of  war  until  he  was  close  aboard,  when  sh« 
triced  up  her  ports  and  let  go  two  broadsides  at  th< 
Fox.  The  privateer,  although  hit  several  times- 
one  shot  going  through  an  arms  chest — managed  t< 
escape.  The  Scourge  sailed  for  the  United  States 
arriving  at  Chatham,  Cape  Cod,  in  May,  having  beei 
absent  more  than  a  year,  in  which  time  she  ha< 
taken  twenty-seven  vessels  and  four  hundred  an< 
twenty  prisoners. 

264  CAPTAINS  MAFFITT  AND  SEALER.        1813-1814 

Meantime  the  Rattlesnake  had  been  giving  a  good 
account  of  herself.  Between  August  10  and  August 
22,  1813,  Captain  Maffitt  took  the  brigs  Betsey,  Pax, 
Thetis,  Diligent,  and  Friends  Adventure,  besides  the 
sloops  Perseverance  and  Fame.  In  all,  the  Rattlesnake 
took  eighteen  vessels.  Captain  Maffitt  spent  the 
winter  of  1813-14  in  Europe,  and  early  in  the  latter 
year  we  find  him  at  La  Eochelle,  where,  after  wit- 
nessing the  marvelous  escape  of  the  Ida,  as  narrated 
in  another  chapter,1  he  was  blockaded  by  a  British 
squadron.  Escaping  from  that  port,  after  the  Ida 
got  to  sea,  the  Rattlesnake  was  captured,  June  3, 1814, 
by  the  British  frigate  Hyperion. 

1  See  chapter  xv,  Escape  of  the  Ida. 



ALTHOUGH  one  of  the  smallest  States  in  the 
Union,  Rhode  Island  sent  out  several  privateers  in 
this  war  which  made  up  for  deficiency  in  number 
by  the  vast  amount  of  damage  they  inflicted  upon 
the  enemy's  commerce.  A  peculiarity  of  Rhode 
Island's  privateers  was  the  fact  that  they  monopo- 
lized the  name  "  Yankee."  They  had  the  Yankee,  the 
True  Blooded  Yankee,  the  Yankee  Lass,  the  Yankee 
American,  and  the  Yankee  Porter.  The  last  two, 
though  hailing  from  Salem  and  New  York  respec- 
tively, were  largely  manned  by  Rhode  Island  sea- 
men. The  first  to  get  to  sea  was  the  Yankee.  She 
was  a  brig  of  one  hundred  and  sixty-eight  tons, 
armed  with  the  usual  long  torn  amidships,  a  12- 
pounder,  and  fourteen  short  guns,  9-  and  6-pounders, 
in  her  broadsides.  Her  owners  were  James  De  Wolf 
and  John  Smith,  of  Bristol,  the  former  having  three 
fourths  and  the  latter  one  fourth  interest  in  her. 
She  sailed  on  her  first  cruise  the  middle  of  July,  1812, 
under  the  command  of  Captain  Oliver  Wilson,  and 
made  for  the  coast  of  Nova  Scotia.  About  noon, 
August  1st,  when  off  the  harbor  of  Halifax,  a  sail 
was  reported  to  Captain  Wilson  bearing  off  the  lee 
bow  some  four  miles  away,  the  thick  weather  having 
prevented  her  discovery  before  this.  The  stranger 
was  seen  to  be  a  large  ship,  apparently  well  armed. 
Captain  Wilson  boldly  ran  down,  and  by  1  P.  M.  he 
was  near  enough  to  observe  that  she  was  preparing 


for  battle.  The  Americans  were  then  sent  to  quar- 
ters, and  being  to  windward  they  approached  the 
stranger  on  her  weather  quarter.  When  within 
close  range  the  ship  showed  English  colors,  where- 
upon Captain  Wilson  fired  his  first  division  of  guns. 
As  the  Yankee  began  to  double  on  the  Englishman's 
quarter  the  Americans  poured  in  a  full  broadside, 
to  which  the  stranger  promptly  replied,  and  the  fir- 
ing became  rapid  and  well  sustained  on  both  sides. 
As  the  two  vessels  were  at  close  quarters,  the 
American  marksmen  in  the  tops  opened  an  effective 
fire  with  their  small  arms. 

It  was  not  long  before  the  enemy's  sails  and  rig- 
ging were  cut  to  pieces  and  their  helmsman  was 
shot  at  the  wheel.  This  caused  some  confusion  in 
their  ship,  which  rapidly  increased  under  the  de- 
structive fire  maintained  by  the  Americans.  About 
this  time  the  Yankee  ran  off  a  short  distance  and 
then  luffed  across  the  stranger's  bow,  where  a  ter- 
rific raking  broadside  was  delivered,  which,  followed 
up  with  a  shower  of  musket  balls,  compelled  the 
Englishman  to  surrender.  The  prize  proved  to  be 
the  British  privateer  Royal  Bounty,  Captain  Henry 
Gambles,  a  splendid  vessel  of  six  hundred  and  fifty- 
eight  tons — about  four  times  as  large  as  the  Yankee 
— mounting  ten  guns,  but  manned  by  only  twenty- 
five  men.  It  was  probably  owing  to  the  circumstance 
of  her  being  short-handed  that  she  yielded  so  soon 
as  she  did.  Captain  Wilson  displayed  true  mettle 
in  attacking  such  a  formidable-looking  ship  when 
he  was  necessarily  ignorant  of  her  condition.  The 
Yankee's  complement  consisted  of  one  hundred  and 
twenty  officers  and  men.  The  Royal  Bounty  was 
seven  weeks  out  from  Hull  in  ballast,  bound  for 
Prince  Edward  Island. 

In  this  action  the  Americans  had  three  men 
wounded,  while  their  sails  and  rigging  were  some- 
what damaged.  The  English  craft  had  two  men 
killed  and  seven  wounded,  among  the  latter  being 

their  commander  and  one  or  two  of  his  officers.  The 
hull,  sails,  and  rigging  of  the  Royal  Bounty  were  cut 
to  pieces  and  all  her  boats  were  shattered,  more  than 
one  hundred  and  fifty  heavy  shot  having  struck  her. 
With  characteristic  kindness  the  American  com- 
mander, on  hearing  of  the  casualties  in  his  prize, 
sent  his  surgeon  aboard  to  attend  to  the  enemy's 
wounded.  Transferring  the  prisoners  to  his  own 
ship,  Captain  Wilson  placed  a  prize  crew  in  the  Royal 
Bounty  and  ordered  her  to  an  American  port.  Con- 
tinuing her  cruise  the  Yankee  captured  several  other 
British  vessels— the  most  valuable  being  the  Eliza 
Ann,  from  Liverpool,  with  a  full  cargo  of  British 
goods,  which  was  sent  into  Boston,  August  26th— 
and  then  returned  to  port. 

About  the  middle  of  October,  1812,  the  Janlcee 
sailed  on  her  second  cruise,  still  under  the  command 
of  Captain  Wilson.    This  time  the  privateer  steered 
for  the  west  coast  of  Africa,  and  was  not  long  in 
making  known  her  arrival.    Her  first  "appropria- 
tion" was  the  British  sloop  Mary  Ann,  Captain 
Sutherland,  a  coppered  vessel  from  London,  carry- 
ing four  guns  and  eleven  men.     The  Englishmen 
did  not  have  an  opportunity  to  resist,  and  were 
taken  aboard  the  privateer  as  prisoners.    The  Mary 
Ann  was  found  to  have  on  board  gold  dust,  ivory,  and 
camwood  to  the  value  of  twenty-eight  thousand  dol- 
lars, which  were  taken  aboard  the  Jankee  and  then 
the  sloop  was  burned.    The  next  prize  was  another 
coppered  vessel,  the  schooner  Alder,  Captain  Crow- 
ley    from  Liverpool,  carrying  six  9-pounders  and 
twenty-one  men.    These  people  made  a  stubborn  de- 
fense, but  on  the  blowing  up  of  their  quarter-deck, 
by  which  their  commander  and  six  of  his  crew 
were  killed,  they  surrendered.   The  Alder  had  in  her 
hold  four  hundred  casks  of  musket  flints,  a  quan- 
tity of  bar  lead,  iron,  and  drygoods,  the  entire  cargo 
and  vessels  being  valued  at  twenty-four  thousand 


Skirting  along  the  coast  of  Africa,  Captain  Wil- 
son looked  into  every  port,  river,  and  factory  town 
in  search  of  the  enemy.  At  one  place  there  was  a 
fort  called  Appollonia,  mounting  fifty  guns,  though 
it  is  probable  that  most  of  them  were  not  service- 
able. Discovering  a  brig  snugly  anchored  under 
the  guns  of  this  formidable-looking  fort,  Captain 
Wilson  organized  an  expedition  for  the  purpose  of 
cutting  the  brig  out.  The  plan  was  put  through  in  a 
most  audacious  manner.  The  brig,  which  proved  to 
be  the  Fly,  was  taken  from  her  anchorage  near  the 
fort  and  brought  out  in  safety.  Her  commander  was 
Captain  Tydeman.  The  Fly  carried  six  guns  and  had 
fourteen  men  aboard.  Her  cargo  consisted  of  gold 
dust,  ivory,  gunpowder,  iron,  drygoods,  and  various 
other  articles,  the  vessel  and  cargo  being  valued  at 
thirty-six  thousand  dollars.  Captain  Wilson  placed 
a  prize  crew  aboard  the  Fly  and  ordered  her  to  the 
United  States. 

Another  vessel  taken  by  the  Yankee  on  this  cruise 
was  the  brig  Thames,  Captain  Toole,  of  Liverpool, 
carrying  eight  guns  and  fourteen  men,  with  a  cargo 
of  drygoods,  camwood,  and  redwood  worth  forty 
thousand  dollars.  This  vessel  also  was  manned  and 
arrived  safely  in  Boston.  Not  long  after  he  had  seen 
the  Thames  fairly  off,  Captain  Wilson  fell  in  with 
the  brig  Harriet  and  Matilda,  Captain  Inman,  from 
Cork  for  Pernambuco,  carrying  eight  guns  and  four- 
teen men.  This  vessel  at  one  time  had  been  a  Portu- 
guese war  brig,  captured  by  the  English  in  1808.  At 
the  time  of  her  falling  into  the  clutches  of  the  Yankee 
she  had  on  board  a  cargo  of  fine  cloths,  linens,  iron, 
salt,  and  porter  to  the  value  of  forty-one  thousand 
dollars,  which  were  duly  appropriated  by  the  cap- 
tors. The  fifth  prize  made  by  Captain  Wilson  was 
the  brig  Shannon — by  one  account  the  Andalusia — 
Captain  Kendall,  from  Maranham  for  Liverpool, 
having  on  board  ten  guns  and  one  hundred  men,  of 
whom  eighty-one  were  free  blacks.  This  vessel  and 

1812-1813.    BOLD  BASH  ON  THE  AFRICAN  COAST. 

cargo,  worth  thirty-four  thousand  dollars,  arrived 
safely  at  Savannah. 

While  looking  into  Tradetown  Captain  Wilson 
observed  a  schooner  lying  there  at  anchor.  He  made 
a  bold  dash  into  the  port  and  came  out  with  the 
schooner  George,  having  on  board  a  cargo  of  rice. 
Taking  out  two  thousand  five  hundred  dollars'  worth 
of  this  commodity,  Captain  Wilson  placed  all  his 
prisoners  in  the  George  and  gave  them  permission 
to  make  for  whatever  port  they  pleased,  -while  he 
turned  the  prow  of  the  Yankee  westward.  Before 
reaching  the  American  side  of  the  Atlantic  Captain 
Wilson  made  his  eighth  prize,  the  schooner  Alfred. 
The  Yankee,  after  touching  at  several  Portuguese  is- 
lands for  water  and  "  information,"  arrived  in  New- 
port— by  another  account  Bristol — in  March,  1813, 
having  taken,  in  a  cruise  of  one  hundred  and  fifty 
days,  eight  vessels,  one  hundred  and  ninety-six  men, 
four  hundred  and  six  muskets,  and  property  to  the 
value  of  two  hundred  and  ninety-six  thousand  dol- 
lars. Soon  after  gaming  port  the  owners  of  the 
Yankee  had  the  satisfaction  of  learning"  that  the 
cargo  of  the  Shannon,  which  had  been  appraised  by 
Captain  Wilson  at  only  thirty-four  thousand  dollars, 
had  realized  sixty-seven  thousand  five  hundred  and 
twenty-one  dollars. 

But  the  thrifty  Yankee  could  not  long  remain  in 
port,  and  soon  after  settling  her  accounts,  and  after 
giving  herself  a  little  brushing  up,  she  put  to  sea 
again  at  seven  o'clock  on  the  evening  of  Slay  20, 
1813,  this  time  under  the  command  of  Captain  Elisha 
Snow.  It  was  known  to  Captain  Snow  that  an  Eng- 
lish frigate  and  a  14-gun  brig  of  war  were  waiting 
for  him  in  the  neighborhood  of  Block  Island,  but 
under  cover  of  night  he  succeeded  in  giving  the 
cruisers  the  slip,  and  was  again  in  blue  water.  Two 
days  after  leaving  port  the  Yankee  captured  the  Brit- 
ish brig  William  and  ordered  her  in,  but  unfortu- 
nately the  latter  fell  into  the  clutches  of  the  frigate 


which  the  Yankee  had  eluded.  On  the  day  he  took 
the  William  Captain  Snow  fell  in  with  a  Portuguese 
schooner,  and  after  paroling  the  men  he  had  taken 
out  of  his  prize  he  placed  them  aboard  the  Portu- 
guese and  resumed  his  cruise. 

On  May  30th  the  Yankee  came  across  the  English 
brig  Thames,  the  second  vessel  bearing  that  name 
which  she  had  met  during  her  career  in  this  war. 
The  Thames  carried  fourteen  guns,  but  was  manned 
by  only  twenty  men.  Nevertheless  the  Britons  made 
a  gallant  fight,  and  it  was  not  until  after  an  action  of 
more  than  an  hour  that  they  could  be  induced  to  sur- 
render. She  was  sent  into  Portland,  where  the  brig 
and  cargo  of  more  than  two  thousand  bales  of  cot- 
ton were  sold  for  one  hundred  and  ten  thousand  dol- 
lars. On  June  3d  the  privateer  overhauled  a  Portu- 
guese brig  from  New  York,  and  Captain  Snow  placed 
in  her  the  officers  and  men  of  the  Thames,  after  they 
had  given  their  promise  not  to  serve  against  the 
United  States  again  in  this  war. 

By  the  middle  of  June  Captain  Snow  was  near- 
ing  the  coast  of  Ireland,  and  on  the  22d,  when  in 
sight  of  land,  he  captured  the  sloop  Earl  Camden,  of 
one  hundred  and  ten  tons,  valued  at  ten  thousand 
dollars,  which  was  ordered  to  France.  Eight  days 
later,  while  still  in  sight  of  the  Irish  coast,  he  took 
the  English  brig  Elizabeth,  of  one  hundred  and  fifty- 
six  tons,  laden  with  cotton  estimated  to  be  worth 
eighty  thousand  dollars,  which  also  was  ordered  to 
France.  On  the  same  day  Captain  Snow  took  the 
brig  Watson,  carrying  three  guns  and  fifteen  men. 
She  had  on  board  bale  cotton  valued  at  sixty  thou- 
sand dollars. 

Still  clinging  to  the  Irish  coast,  Captain  Snow 
on  July  1st  stood  close  in  to  land,  and  after 
paroling  his  prisoners  placed  them  in  two  boats 
and  "  directed  "  them  to  make  for  the  shore.  Scarce- 
ly had  these  boats  put  off  when  the  lookouts  re- 
ported a  strange  sail.  Chase  was  promptly  given, 

1813.  BATTLE  WITH  A  SPANIARD.  271 

and  in  a  short  time  tie  Yaw  tec  overhauled  the 
schooner  Ceres,  of  Londonderry,  laden  with  produce. 
As  this  vessel  was  of  little  value  she  was  released 
after  some  articles  of  value  to  her  captors  had  been 
taken  out.  Continuing  within  sight  of  the  coast,  the 
Yankee  on  the  following  day  seized  the  brig  Mariner, 
laden  with  mm  and  sugar  to  the  value  of  seventy 
thousand  dollars,  which  was  ordered  to  France.  The 
officers  and  crew  of  this  prize,  after  being  paroled, 
were  placed  in  a  boat  and  permitted  to  land. 

The  whereabouts  of  the  mischievous  Yankee  were 
now  so  well  known  to  the-  enemy,  through  the  re- 
ports brought  by  these  paroled  prisoners,  that  Cap- 
tain Snow  deemed  it  prudent  to  stand  out  to  sea,  and 
on  July  23d  he  gave  chase  to  a  promising  sail.   When 
within    gunshot   the    Yankee   discharged   her   bow 
chaser,  but  as  no  attention  was  paid  to  this  sum- 
mons to  heave  to  a  second  gun  was  fired.    This  shot 
also  was  unheeded,  whereupon  Captain  Snow  hoisted 
American  colors  \vith  a  pennant  and  sent  a  shot  into 
the  stranger.     The  latter  then  displayed  Spanish 
colors  and  discharged  her  stern  gun.    Meantime  the 
Yankee  was  rapidly  gaining,  and  on  coming  within 
pistol  shot  the  Americans  fired  a  lee  gun  as  an  indi- 
cation of  friendship,  but  the  chase  luffed  up  and 
opened  with  grape  from  her  stern  guns.    Satisfied 
that  he  was  dealing  with  an  Englishman  in  disguise, 
Captain  Snow  began  firing  in  earnest,  and  after  five 
or  six  broadsides  he  brought  the  Spanish  colors 
down.    On  sending  a  boat  aboard  it  was  found  that 
the  stranger  was,  in  truth,  a  Spaniard,  being  the 
privateer  Ntieva  Constitution,  a  ship  of  three  hundred 
tons,  mounting  six  24-pounders  and  two  12-pounders 
and  carrying  a  crew  of  twenty-five  men.    Assured  of 
his  mistake,  Captain  Snow  hastened  to  apologize  and 
released  the  Spaniard. 

Three  days  later  the  Yankee  gave  chase  to  a  brig, 
which,  when  the  vessels  were  within  three  miles  of 
each  other,  was  seen  to  be  a  war  craft.  Upon  dis- 


covering  this,  Captain  Snow  hauled  close  upon  th( 
wind,  and  notwithstanding  the  fact  that  th( 
stranger  showed  American  colors  he  declined  tak 
ing  chances  and  continued  on  his  course,  so  that  ir 
a  few  hours  he  left  her  far  behind.  On  August  20tl 
the  Yankee  returned  to  port,  having  captured  twenty 
two  English  vessels  in  her  first  three  cruises,  with 
out  the  loss  of  a  man  on  her  part. 

Her  fourth  venture  also  was  very  successful.  She 
sailed  September  13,  1813,  having  Thomas  Jones  as 
her  commander.  Her  first  prizes  were  the  brigs 
Ann,  laden  with  rum,  salt,  and  drygoods,  for  New- 
foundland, valued  at  forty  thousand  dollars,  and  the 
Mary,  having  a  cargo  of  salt,  coal,  and  crockery, 
valued  at  twenty  thousand  dollars,  which  were  sent 
into  Chatham.  Captain  Jones  also  took  the  brigs 
Dispatch  and  Telemachus,  the  former  having  a  cargo 
of  drygoods  and  cutlery  invoiced  at  forty  thousand 
dollars,  and  the  latter — which  was  recaptured — with 
a  cargo  of  rigging,  coal,  and  provisions.  The  most 
valuable  part  of  the  Telemachus'  cargo  had  been 
transferred  to  the  privateer  before  she  was  ordered 
to  port. 

After  taking  the  brig  Favorite,  which  was  trans- 
formed into  a  cartel,  and  the  schooner  Katy,  which 
was  sent  into  New  Bedford,  Captain  Jones  met  the 
bark  Paris,  armed  with  ten  guns  and  manned  with 
a  strong  crew.  The  Yankee's  complement  had  by 
this  time  been  much  reduced  by  drafts  for  manning 
her  prizes,  so  that  it  required  a  hot  fight  of  thirty- 
five  minutes  before  she  could  prevail  upon  the  Paris 
to  surrender.  The  prize  had  a  valuable  cargo,  which 
was  transferred  to  the  privateer.  The  Paris  was 
then  manned  and  ordered  to  an  American  port,  but 
soon  afterward  she  was  recaptured.  All  of  these 
vessels  had  formed  a  part  of  a  great  fleet  of  mer- 
chantmen which  had  sailed  from  Cork  under  the  pro- 
tection of  a  strong  force  of  war  ships.  They  had 
become  separated  by  a  storm,  and  the  Yankee  com- 

1813-1814.  A  §600,000  PRIZE.  2TS 

ing  along  just  then  made  easy  capture  of  the  stray 
ones.  After  taking  two  more  vessels  of  this  fleet, 
the  brigs  John  and  Mary  and  the  Hoice,  Captain  Jones 
made  for  home,  arriving  forty-nine  days  after  sail- 
ing. The  John  and  Mary  \vas  found  to  be  laden  with 
shot  and  provisions  worth  forty-nine  thousand  dol- 
lars, while  the  Howe,  being  comparatively  of  little 
value,  was  released  and  the  prisoners  placed  in 
her  and  allowed  to  go.  In  this  short  cruise  tke 
Yankee  made  one  hundred  and  eighty  prisoners. 

Owing  to  the  rigorous  blockade  maintained  by 
the  British  fleet  off  Khode  Island  the  Yankee  did  not 
get  to  sea  again  until  May  or  June,  1814,  when  she 
again  was  under  the  command  of  Captain  Elista 
Snow.  In  this  cruise  of  only  a  few  weeks  the  Yankee 
took  four  vessels — the  ship  Sir  Hugh  Jones,  from  Bel- 
fast for  Guadeloupe,  which  was  divested  of  her  valu- 
able cargo  and  ordered  in;  the  ship  Berry  Castle,  of 
six  guns,  which  was  released  after  Captain  Sno^v 
had  divested  the  vessel  of  her  cargo  of  barilla  and 
wine;  the  brig  Maria  Wirman,  from  Havana  for  Scot- 
land; and  the  ship  San  Jose  Indiano,  from  Liverpool 
for  Bio  Janeiro.  The  last  vessel  was  of  enormous 
value,  and  on  being  taken  into  Portland  the  gross 
receipts  from  the  sale  of  the  ship  and  cargo  "was 
nearly  six  hundred  thousand  dollars.  The  owners 
of  the  Yankee  received  as  their  share  of  the  profits 
nearly  a  quarter  of  a  million  dollars,  while  not  a 
boy  in  the  Yankee  got  less  than  seven  hundred  dol- 
lars. Captain  Snow  received  for  his  portion  fifteen 
thousand  seven  hundred  and  eighty-nine  dollars, 
while  the  negro  waiters  in  the  cabin,  Cuffee  Cock- 
roach and  Jack  Jibsheet,  received  one  thousand  one 
hundred  and  twenty-one  dollars  and  eighty-eight 
cents  and  seven  hundred  and  thirty-eight  dollars  and 
nineteen  cents,  respectively. 

In  her  sixth  and  last  cruise  the  Yankee  \vas  com- 
manded by  William  C.  Jenkes,  until  he  was  succeeded 
by  B.  K.  Churchill,  Jenkes  losing  one  of  his  legs  be- 


fore  the  end  of  the  cruise.    She  sailed  October  1, 1814, 
and  on  January  21,  1815,  put  into  Beaufort,  North 
Carolina,  after  a  successful  cruise,  having  taken  six 
vessels — the  brigs  Lady  Prevost,  Courtney,  and  Specu- 
lator] the  ships  St.  Andrews  and  General  Wellesley,  and 
a  schooner  from  Bermuda  laden  with  flour.     The 
Speculator,  which  had  a  cargo  of  jerked  beef,  was 
given  up  to  the  prisoners.    The  Courtney  was  taken 
into  New  Bedford,  and  on  sale  realized  seventy  thou- 
sand dollars.    The  General  Wellesley  was  a  splendid 
vessel  of  six  hundred  tons,  built  in  the  strongest  pos- 
sible manner  of  teak  wood,  newly  coppered,  and 
fitted  with  all  the  improvements  then  known.    She 
carried  an  armament  of  sixteen  guns  and  a  crew 
of  thirty-six  Englishmen  and  fifty  Lascars,  and  it 
was  only  after  a  running  fight  of  several  hours  that 
the  'Yankee  finally  captured  her.    The  prize  was  from 
London  for  Calcutta,  and  consequently  was  well 
stocked  with  miscellaneous  articles,  a  part  of  her 
cargo  consisting  of  eighteen  thousand  bars  of  iron. 
As  this  prize  was  worth  at  least  two  hundred  and 
fifty  thousand  dollars,  an  unusually  strong  prize 
crew  was  placed  aboard  her  under  the  orders  of 
James   M.    Blum,   with   instructions    to   make    for 
Charleston,  South  Carolina.     Unfortunately,  while 
endeavoring  to  enter  the  harbor,  the  General  Welles- 
ley  struck  on  the  bar  and  became  a  total  wreck — all 
of  her  original  crew,  besides  two  of  the  Americans, 

Prom  these  six  cruises  of  the  Yankee  it  will  be 
seen  that  her  record  was  an  unusual  one.  She  had 
taken  altogether  nine  ships,  twenty-five  brigs,  five 
schooners,  and  one  sloop,  making  in  all  forty  ves- 
sels captured  from  the  British.  She  had  seized  or 
destroyed  property  to  the  value  of  five  million  dol- 
lars, and  had  sent  into  Bristol  alone  one  million 
dollars'  worth  of  goods. 

Equally  successful  and  even  more  remarkable 
than  the  career  of  the  Yankee  was  that  of  the  True 


Blooded  Yankee.  This  vessel,  although  fitted  out  in 
France,  is  entitled  to  a  place  among  "  those  <  Yan- 
kees '  of  Ehode  Island,"  inasmuch  as  she  was  fitted 
out  by  a  Mr.  Treble,  a  Ehode  Islander,  then  living 
in  Paris.  She  was  a  French  brig,  carrying  sixteen 
guns,  and  had  been  captured  by  the  English  and 
taken  into  their  navy  shortly  before  the  war  with 
the  United  States  broke  out.  Afterward  she  was 
recaptured  by  the  French,  from  whom  Mr.  Preble 
purchased  her  and  fitted  her  .out  as  an  American 
privateer.  Captain  W.  F.  Wise,  of  the  British  frig- 
ate Granicus,  said  of  her,  in  a  conversation  with  one 
of  his  prisoners,  the  captain  of  an  American  priva- 
teer: "  She  outsailed  everything,  and  not  one  of  our 
cruisers  could  touch  her." 

The  True  Blooded  Yankee  sailed  from  Brest,  March 
1,1813,  under  the  command  of  Captain  Hailey,  and 
made  directly  for  the  Irish  Channel.  Her  first  prize 
was  the  little  coasting  craft  Margaret,  in  which  Cap- 
tain Hailey  placed  a  prize  master  and  six  men,  with 
orders  to  make  for  Morlaix.  The  peculiar  dangers 
of  privateering  were  well  illustrated  in  the  fate  of 
this  prize.  It  seems  that  Mr.  Preble  had  some  diffi- 
culty in  getting  together  a  sufficient  number  of  men 
to  fill  out  the  complement  of  the  True  Blooded  Yankee; 
as,  being  in  a  French  port,  American  seamen  were 
scarce,  and  recourse  had  to  be  taken  to  unusual 
means.  By  the  connivance  of  the  French  authori- 
ties the  Americans  were  permitted  to  search 
through  the  prisons  in  the  hope  of  inducing  sailors  to 
serve  in  the  privateer.  A  number  of  men  were  thus 
secured,  as  they  were  glad  to  exchange  their  dreary 
confinement  for  a  life  full  of  adventure  and  promise 
of  large  financial  rewards.  Among  these  prisoners 
was  an  Englishman  named  John  Wiltshire,  who  had 
been  in  a  French  dungeon  three  years.  tHearing  that 
an  American  privateer  was  being  fitted  out,  he  de- 
clared himself  to  be  an  American  citizen,  and  ac- 
cordingly was  released  and  allowed  to  enlist  in  the 


True  Blooded  Yankee.  He  was  one  of  the  men  detailed 
to  act  as  a  part  of  the  prize  crew  of  the  Margaret. 
The  Margaret  had  scarcely  lost  sight  of  the  priva- 
teer when  she  was  recaptured  by  the  British  cutter 
Nimrod,  and  her  prize  crew  made  prisoners.  Wilt- 
shire was  recognized  as  an  English  subject  and  was 
promptly  hanged. 

Continuing  his  cruise  along  the  coast  of  Ireland, 
Captain  Hailey  took  prizes  daily,  and  on  one  occa- 
sion he  seized  an  island  near  the  enemy's  mainland 
and  held  it  for  six  days,  until  he  had  made  necessary 
repairs,  when  he  resumed  his  cruise.  He  returned  to 
Brest  in  thirty-seven  days,  having  in  that  time  made 
two  hundred  and  seventy  prisoners  and  secured 
enormously  valuable  cargoes.  Among  the  goods 
stowed  in  the  hold  of  the  True  Blooded  Yankee  were 
eighteen  bales  of  Turkish  carpets,  forty-three  bales 
of  raw  silk,  twenty  boxes  of  gum,  twenty-four  packs 
of  beaver  skins,  etc.,  showing  that  every  quarter  of 
the  globe  had  contributed  to  the  wealth  of  the  pri- 
vateersmen.  Sailing  from  France  again,  Captain 
Hailey  made  a  rapid  circuit  of  Ireland  and  Scotland. 
He  landed  several  times  and  held  small  towns  for 
a  ransom,  and  on  one  occasion  he  burned  seven  ves- 
sels in  an  Irish  port.  In  May  he  had  the  audacity 
to  run  into  the  harbor  of  Dublin,  where  he  sank 
a  schooner  that  had  eluded  him  the  day  before. 
Again  returning  to  Prance,  the  True  Blooded  Yankee 
disposed  of  her  prizes  and  their  cargoes  at  great 

On  September  30,  1813,  the  following  notice, 
copied  from  a  Paris  newspaper,  dated  September 
25th,  was  posted  in  Lloyd's  Coffee  House,  London: 
"  The  True  Blooded  Yankee,  American  privateer,  has 
been  completely  refitted  for  sea,  manned  with  a  crew 
of  two  hundred  men,  and  sailed  from  Brest  the  21st 
inst.  supposed  for  the  purpose  of  cruising  in  the 
British  Channel.  Her  orders  are  to  sink,  burn,  and 
destroy,  and  not  to  capture  with  the  intention  of 

1812-1814.    OTEEB  "YANKEES"  OF  RHODE  ISLAND.          277 

carrying  into  port."  These  orders  were  faithfully 
carried  out,  an  immense  amount  of  damage  being 
inflicted  on  British  commerce  at  the  hands  of  this 
"  Yankee  "  scourge.  It  was  on  this  cruise  that  the 
True  Blooded  Yankee  was  finally  captured,  she  having 
at  the  time  only  thirty-two  men  out  of  her  original 
complement  of  two  hundred,  the  rest  having  been 
drawn  off  to  form  prize  crews  for  vessels  captured 
from  the  enemy.  The  privateer  and  her  people  were 
taken  to  Gibraltar,  where  they  were  confined  until 
the  close  of  the  war.  In  all  the  True  Blooded  Yankee 
took  six  ships  and  twenty-one  smaller  craft,  one  of 
her  prizes  being  worth  four  hundred  thousand 

Of  the  other  "  Yankees  of  Ehode  Island,"  of  which 
mention  has  been  made,  there  remains  little  to  re- 
cord. The  Yankee  Lass,  a  schooner  of  nine  guns  and 
eighty-five  men,  was  commanded  by  Captain  B.  K. 
Churchill,  who  had  served  with  distinction  in  the 
Yankee  under  Captain  Jenkes.  The  Yankee  Lass  was 
captured  at  sea  on  her  maiden  cruise  when  only 
twenty  days  out,  May  1,  1814,  by  the  British  frigate 
Severn.  The  Yankee  American  made  a  short  cruise  on 
the  outbreak  of  hostilities  under  Captain  Stanwood. 
She  was  a  schooner  of  seven  guns  and  carried  forty- 
four  men.  In  her  second  venture,  under  Captain  T. 
Pillsbury,  she  was  captured  October  24,  1812,  when 
one  month  out,  while  off  Sombrero  lighthouse, 
by  the  sloop  of  war  Peruvian.  Of  the  Yankee  Porter 
little  is  known  except  that  she  was  a  sloop  of 
two  guns  with  thirty-five  men,  under  the  command 
of  Captain  J.  Welden.  Not  one  prize  is  credited 

to  her. 

There  were  five  other  privateers  sent  out  from 
Ehode  Island  in  this  war,  but  they  were  small  ves- 
sels carrying  from  one  to  three  guns,  and  accom- 
plished nothing,  save  the  Waterwitch,  Captain  T.  Mil- 
ton, which  seized  an  American  vessel  laden  with 
seven  hundred  barrels  of  flour  intended  for  the 

278  PRIVATEERS  OF  RHODE  ISLAND.          1812-1814. 

enemy.  The  names  of  the  others  are  Hiram,  Hunt- 
ress, Juno,  and  Swift.  The  Governor  Gerry,  a  fine  brig 
of  eighteen  guns,  was  launched  in  forty-eight  days 
after  the  laying  of  her  keel.  She  was  owned  by  the 
Messrs.  Hitch  and  Bradley  and  commanded  by  Cap- 
tain Joshua  Hitch.  In  Ellis'  History  of  New  Bed- 
ford is  the  following  notice  of  this  craft:  "  She  was 
a  vessel  of  sharp  model,  a  fast  sailer,  and  thoroughly 
equipped  for  the  business.  Her  career,  however,  was 
of  short  duration.  After  landing  a  cargo  of  silks 
and  other  valuable  goods  in  some  French  port,  she 
came  out,  July  29,  1813,  and  ran  directly  into  a  fleet 
of  British  men-of-war.  Chase  was  given  to  her,  and 
she  surrendered  only  after  she  had  carried  away  all 
her  spars." 



FOR  a  privateersman  to  match  his  ship  success- 
fully against  a  regular  war  vessel  is  sufficient  dis- 
tinction in  itself  to  mark  her  commander  as  a  man 
of  extraordinary  daring.  To  be  twice  successful  in 
such  an  encounter  is  remarkable  even  for  the  com- 
mander of  an  American  private  armed  craft.  A 
number  of  our  privateersmen  have  won  this  distinc- 
tion; but  few  have  equaled,  in  this  particular,  the 
success  of  Captain  Thomas  Boyle.  He  had  the  en- 
viable honor  of  twice  worsting  a  cruiser  and  of  sev- 
eral times  putting  up  a  good  defense  against  govern- 
ment war  craft.  Even  in  the  light  of  the  proverbial 
daring  of  American  privateersmen,  Captain  Boyle's 
career  in  the  War  of  1812  was  extraordinary  and 
well  worthy  of  extended  notice.  He  has  been  de- 
scribed, by  one  who  knew  him  well,  as  being  a  quiet, 
unassuming  man,  who  said  little  but  did  much; 
"  always  annoying  the  enemy  wherever  he  chanced 
to  steer,  sometimes  on  the  coasts  of  Spain  and  Por- 
tugal, and,  anon,  in  the  British  and  Irish  Channels, 
carrying  dismay  and  terror  to  British  trade  and  com- 
merce, in  defiance  of  their  fleetest  frigates  and  sloops 
of  war,  which  strove  again  and  again  to  capture 
him,  but  never  were  able.  He  appeared  frequently 
to  tantalize  and  vex  them  as  if  for  mere  sport,  and  at 
the  same  time  convince  them  that  he  could  out- 
maneuver  and  outsail  them  in  any  trial  of  seaman- 


280  CAPTAIN  THOMAS  BOYLE.  1812. 

When  this  commander  put  to  sea,  early  in  the 
war,  he  knew  that  he  might  be  called  upon  to  defend 
his  ship  against  the  attacks  of  British  cruisers,  but 
he  did  not  count  upon  the  interference  of  other  for- 
eign naval  powers.  Our  regular  cruisers  sometimes 
experienced  the  covert  sympathy  of  Spanish  and 
Portuguese  officials  at  the  several  ports  in  which 
they  were  compelled  to  enter,  and,  as  will  be  seen, 
our  privateers,  on  one  occasion  at  least,  felt  the  full 
force  of  their  broadsides.  Captain  Boyle  began  his 
extraordinary  career  in  this  war  in  the  privateer 
Comet,  of  Baltimore.  Several  of  our  privateers  had 
borne  this  name  in  the  struggle  for  independence, 
and  had  met  with  considerable  success,  so  it  is  not 
surprising  that  we  find  one  of  the  most  successful 
private  armed  craft  in  the  second  war  with  Great 
Britain  bearing  this  lucky  name.  Before  hostilities 
broke  out  this  vessel,  a  stanch  schooner,  had  been 
engaged  in  the  merchant  service,  and,  like  all  mer- 
chantmen of  her  class  in  those  troublous  times,  she 
had  been  constructed  quite  as  much  with  a  view  to 
speed  and  fighting  as  stowing  away  cargo.  The 
Comet  had  been  selected  for  the  privateer  service 
because  of  her  splendid  sailing  qualities  and  her 
ability  to  carry  a  heavy  armament. 

In  her  first  cruise,  which  began  in  July,  1812,  she 
had  a  desperate  engagement  with  the  British  mer- 
chantman Hopewell,  a  ship  of  four  hundred  tons, 
carrying  fourteen  guns  and  a  crew  of  twenty-five 
men.  She  was  from  Surinam  bound  for  London, 
laden  with  seven  hundred  and  ten  hogsheads  of 
sugar,  fifty-four  hogsheads  of  molasses,  one  hundred 
and  eleven  bales  of  cotton,  and  two  hundred  and 
sixty  bags  and  casks  of  coffee  and  cocoa— a  prize  well 
worth  fighting  for.  The  vessels  quickly  came  to 
close  quarters,  and  the  English  surrendered  only 
after  one  of  their  number  had  been  killed  and  six 
wounded— nearly  a  third  of  the  crew.  The  Hopewtell, 
with  her  cargo,  was  valued  at  one  hundred  and  fifty 


thousand  dollars.  She  had  been  one  of  a  squadron 
of  five  vessels  that  hftd  left  Surinam,  the  Hopewell 
having  become  separated  from  her  consorts  two 
days  before  her  capture.  Another  of  the  Comet's 
valuable  prizes  was  the  ship  Henry,  of  four  hundred 
tons,  coppered  to  the  bends  and  mounting  four  12- 
pounders  and  six  6-pounders.  She  was  from  St. 
Oroix  bound  for  London,  and  had  on  board  seven 
hundred  hogsheads  of  sugar  and  thirteen  pipes  of 
old  Madeira  wine,  the  vessel  and  cargo  netting  her 
captors  more  than  one  hundred  thousand  dollars. 
The  Comet  also  took  the  ship  John,  of  four  hundred 
tons,  carrying  fourteen  guns  and  a  crew  of  thirty- 
five  men,  from  Demerara  for  Liverpool.  She  was 
laden  with  cotton,  sugar,  rum,  and  coffee,  besides 
a  large  quantity  of  old  copper  and  dyewood,  the  en- 
tire cargo  and  vessel  being  worth  at  least  one  hun- 
dred and  fifty  thousand  dollars — fifty  thousand  dol- 
lars of  which  went  into  the  Treasury  of  the  United 
States  in  the  form  of  bounty. 

In  one  of  his  prizes  Captain  Boyle  found  a  copy 
of  "  Kecommendations  by  their  Lordships  of  the  Ad- 
miralty," which  shows  what  extraordinary  measures 
were  resorted  to  by  the  English  to  check  the  dread- 
ful ravages  wrought  by  American  cruisers  and  pri- 
vateers on  British  commerce:  "  The  Lords  Commis- 
sioners of  the  Admiralty  recommend  that  all  mas- 
ters of  merchant  vessels  do  supply  themselves  with 
a  quantity  of  false  fires,  to  give  the  alarm  on  the 
approach  of  an  enemy's  cruiser  in  the  night,  or  in 
the  day  to  make  the  usual  signals  for  an  enemy 
being  chased  by  or  discovering  a  suspicious  vessel; 
and,  in  the  event  of  their  capture  being  inevitable, 
either  by  night  or  by  day,  the  masters  do  cause  their 
gears,  trusses,  and  halyards  to  be  cut  and  unrove, 
and  their  vessel  to  be  otherwise  so  disabled  as  to 
prevent  their  being  immediately  capable  of  making 

The  Comet  returned  from  her  first  cruise  in  No- 

232  CAPTAIN  THOMAS  BOYLE.  1812-1813, 

vember,  1812,  and  hasty  preparations  were  made  to 
refit  and  get  her  to  sea  again.  A  strong  force  of 
British  war  ships  blocked  Chesapeake  Bay  so  com- 
pletely that  it  was  some  weeks  before  Captain  Boyle 
ventured  to  run  the  gantlet.  The  night  of  Decem- 
ber 23,  1812,  coming  on  dark  and  boisterous,  Cap- 
tain Boyle  quietly  passed  the  word  round  that  the 
attempt  would  be  made  that  evening.  Accordingly, 
soon  after  dark,  the  schooner  slipped  her  moorings 
and  sped  rapidly  down  the  bay.  For  several  hours 
it  seemed  as  if  the  venture  would  be  entirely  suc- 
cessful, for  no  trace  of  a  British  war  craft  was  to  be 
found,  but  shortly  before  daylight  the  Comet  re- 
ceived a  broadside  from  a  frigate  which  the  thick 
weather  had  concealed  from  view.  Little  or  no  at- 
tention was  paid  to  this,  and  the  privateer  slipped 
out  to  sea  with  only  a  little  rigging  damaged  and 
one  spar  hurt.  The  last  was  soon  fished,  and  with 
repaired  rigging  the  Comet  headed  south,  and  in  two 
weeks  was  off  Cape  St.  Eoque,  and  on  January  9, 
1813,  appeared  off  Pernambuco. 

On  that  day  Captain  Boyle  spoke  a  trading  vessel 
just  out  of  the  port,  and  learned  that  in  a  few  days 
some  English  vessels  were  about  to  sail,  with  valu- 
able cargoes.  This  determined  him  to  hover  in  that 
vicinity  and  make  a  dash  for  prizes.  On  the  llth  he 
spoke  the  Portuguese  brig  Wasa,  from  St.  Michael 
for  Pernambuco,  and  then  stood  on  and  off  shore, 
maintaining  a  careful  watch  for  any  indication  of  the 
vessels  leaving  the  harbor.  At  one  o'clock  on  the  af- 
ternoon of  January  14th  his  vigilance  was  rewarded 
by  the  discovery  of  four  sails  standing  out  of  the 
harbor.  They  proved  to  be  a  ship  and  three  brigs. 
Instead  of  making  directly  for  them,  the  privateer 
stood  away  so  as  to  give  them  an  opportunity  to 
get  an  offing  where  it  would  be  easier  to  cut  them 

By  three  o'clock  the  vessels  were  upon  the  wind, 
standing  southeast  about  thirty-six  miles  from  land. 

1813.          BATTLE  WITH  A  PORTUGUESE  CRUISER.  283 

This  was  the  time  for  the  privateer  to  strike,  and, 
bearing  up,  she  made  all  sail  in  chase.  By  five  o'clock 
the  splendid  sailing  qualities  of  the  American 
schooner  had  enabled  her  to  draw  up  on  the  enemy 
very  fast,  and  by  six  o'clock  their  lead  had  so  de- 
creased that  Captain  Boyle  was  able  to  make  them 
out  clearly.  But  just  about  this  time  the  fourth 
sail  was  discovered  to  be  a  large  man-of-war  brig. 
This  was  an  unexpected  result  of  the  chase;  for  Cap- 
tain Boyle  had  been  informed,  through  reliable 
sources,  that  no  English  war  craft  was  in  port,  so 
that  when  he  saw  four  instead  of  three  sails  com- 
ing out  he  supposed  that  another  merchant  vessel 
had  joined  the  squadron,  which  would  only  make  his 
capture  the  more  valuable.  The  announcement  that 
the  fourth  vessel  was  a  heavy  war  brig  somewhat 
disconcerted  his  plan  of  action,  which  was  to  close 
on  the  merchantmen  under  cover  of  night  and  take 
them  one  after  another.  Captain  Boyle,  however, 
was  not  a  man  to  be  frightened  off  by  a  few  cannon, 
and  although  he  was  aware  that  the  merchantmen 
were  well  armed,  and  were  capable  of  giving  the  war 
brig  material  assistance,  he  called  all  hands,  cleared 
the  decks  for  action,  and,  loading  his  cannon  with 
round  and  grape  shot,  boldly  stood  for  the  cruiser. 

By  seven  o'clock  the  Comet  had  gained  a  position 
close  abeam  the  brig  when  the  American  colors  were 
hoisted.  The  brig  responded  with  Portuguese  colors, 
and  her  commander  hailed  and  said  that  he  would 
send  a  boat  aboard.  Anxious  to  discover  if  the 
stranger  really  were  a  Portuguese,  and,  if  such,  what 
her  object  could  be  in  sailing  as  an  escort  to  English 
merchantmen,  Captain  Boyle  hove  to.  Soon  a  boat 
put  off  from  the  side  of  the  brig  and  came  along- 
side the  Comet,  and  an  officer,  dressed  in  Portuguese 
uniform,  stepped  aboard.  He  reported  that  the  brig 
was  a  regular  war  ship  of  the  Portuguese  Govern- 
ment, carrying  a  crew  of  one  hundred  and  sixty-five 
men  and  mounting  twenty  32-pounders — doubtless 

284:  CAPTAENT  THOMAS  BOYLE.  1813. 

an  exaggeration  made  to  intimidate  the  privateers- 
men.  The  Comet  carried  fourteen  guns,  and  had  a 
crew  of  about  one  hundred  and  twenty  men.  The 
officer  furthermore  said  that  the  three  vessels  in  the 
brig's  company  were  English,  and,  being  under  the 
protection  of  the  brig,  must  not  be  molested  by  the 
privateer.  Captain  Boyle  replied  that  his  ship  was 
an  American  cruiser,  and  as  such  he  had  a  right  to  at- 
tack the  English  vessels,  and  that  if  the  Portuguese 
attempted  to  interfere  the  Comet  would  open  with 
her  guns.  In  order  that  there  should  be  no  misunder- 
standing in  the  case,  Captain  Boyle  insisted  upon  the 
officer  seeing  his  papers  from  the  American  Govern- 
ment authorizing  the  Comet  to  capture  English  ves- 
sels. Captain  Boyle  then  informed  the  officer  that 
the  privateer  would  capture  the  merchantmen  if  she 
could;  that  they  were  upon  the  high  seas,  the  com- 
mon highway  of  all  nations;  that  the  Portuguese 
brig  had  no  right  to  interfere,  and  that  the  ocean, 
of  right,  belonged  to  America  as  much  as  any  other 
power  in  the  world.  To  this  the  Portuguese  replied 
that  he  would  be  sorry  if  anything  disagreeable  took 
place;  that  his  brig  had  received  orders  to  protect 
the  merchant  vessels,  and  would  do  so  at  any  hazard. 
Captain  Boyle  said  that  he  also  would  keenly  regret 
if  "  anything  disagreeable  "  took  place  between  his 
vessel  and  the  brig,  but  that  if  the  latter  became 
the  aggressor  he  would  promptly  fire  into  her  before 
leaving.  The  officer  remarked  that  the  merchant 
vessels  were  well  armed  and  strongly  manned,  and 
would  support  the  brig  in  case  of  battle,  to  which 
the  American  commander  replied  that  he  valued 
their  strength  very  little,  but  would  soon  give  them 
all  the  opportunity  they  wanted  to  test  it. 

The  Portuguese  then  returned  to  his  brig  so  as 
to  give  the  result  of  his  interview  with  Captain 
Boyle  to  his  commander.  Before  he  left  the  Comet 
he  promised  to  return  shortly.  After  waiting  in 
vain  some  time  for  the  boat  to  report,  Captain  Boyle 

1818.         BATTLE  WITH  A  PORTUGUESE  CRUISER.  285 

spoke  the  Portuguese,  asking  if  they  intended  send- 
ing their  boat  back,  to  which  they  replied  that  they 
would  speak  the  convoy  first,  and  that,  in  the  mean- 
time, the  Portuguese  commander  would  be  much 
obliged  if  Captain  Boyle  would  send  his  boat  aboard. 
Entertaining  some  doubt  as  to  the  sincerity  of  this 
request,  Captain  Boyle  replied  that  he  did  not  make 
a  practice  of  sending  his  boat  away  at  night,  and 
would  not  do  so  in  this  case.  He  then  avowed  his 
determination  of  attacking  the  English  vessels  at 
once.  He  said  this  with  such  distinctness  as  to  leave 
no  chance  for  him  to  be  misunderstood.  The  Comet 
accordingly  began  to  forge  ahead,  and  in  a  short 
time  came  up  with  the  ship  and  ordered  her  people 
to  back  their  main  topsail.  Having  too  much  head- 
way Captain  Boyle  drew  ahead  of  the  ship,  but  find- 
ing that  little  or  no  attention  was  paid  to  his  order 
he  shouted  that  he  would  be  alongside  again  in  a 
few"  minutes,  and  if  by  that  time  his  order  were  not 
obeyed  he  would  pour  a  broadside  into  them. 

True  to  his  word,  Captain  Boyle  a  few  minutes 
later,  or  at  about  half  past  eight,  tacked,  with  the 
Portuguese  man-of-war  close  after  him,  and  ran 
alongside  the  ship.  By  that  time  one  of  the  mer- 
chant brigs  also  was  close  to  the  ship,  and  the  Comet 
opened  fire  on  both  of  them.  All  the  vessels  at  the 
time  were  carrying  a  press  of  sail,  but  the  privateer, 
from  her  superior  sailing  qualities,  was  obliged  to 
tack  frequently  in  order  to  keep  her  place  at  close 
quarters.  About  this  time  the  Portuguese  man-of- 
war  opened  fire  with  round  and  grape  shot,  to  which 
the  Comet  replied  with  her  long  torn  and  broadside 
guns.  The  bright  moonlight  enabled  the  gunners 
to  take  good  aim;  but  in  a  short  time  such  volumes 
of  smoke  collected  around  the  vessels  that  it  was 
difficult  to  distinguish  one  vessel  from  another. 
This  was  a  circumstance  that  operated  greatly  in 
favor  of  the  Americans,  for  they  were  sure  of  hitting 
an  enemy  no  matter  which  vessel  their  shot  struck, 

286  CAPTAIN  THOMAS  BOYLE.  1813. 

while  the  English  and  Portuguese  soon  became  con- 
fused by  the  smoke,  and  were  unable  to  distinguish 
between  friend  and  foe. 

Caring  nothing  about  the  Portuguese  except  to 
keep  him  at  a  distance,  Captain  Boyle  tenaciously 
held  a  position  close  to  the  British  merchantmen 
and  kept  up  a  heavy  fire  on  them.  The  English  ves- 
sels occasionally  separated,  so  as  to  give  the  man- 
of-war  a  chance  at  the  Americans,  but  the  gunnery 
of  the  Portuguese  was  so  bad  that  little  damage  was 
occasioned  by  it.  In  this  way  the  battle  was  main- 
tained until  a  little  after  midnight,  when  a  voice 
from  the  ship  was  heard  announcing  that  they  had 
surrendered,  as  their  vessel  was  cut  to  pieces  and 
unmanageable.  Shortly  afterward  the  merchant  brig 
also  surrendered,  being  much  cut  up.  But  as  Cap- 
tain Boyle  was  about  to  take  possession  of  the  latter 
the  Portuguese  man-of-war  fired  a  broadside  which 
came  near  sinking  the  boat  in  which  the  boarding 
party  was  proceeding  to  the  prize  and  compelled  it 
to  return  to  the  Comet.  Captain  Boyle  then  devoted 
all  his  attention  to  the  man-of-war,  and  after  some 
heavy  firing  induced  her  to  sheer  off,  the  privateer 
following  and  capturing  the  third  English  vessel, 
which,  like  its  consorts,  was  badly  cut  up. 

But  the  victory  of  the  Americans  was  still  far 
from  being  assured;  for  the  Portuguese,  although 
driven  away,  persisted  in  remaining  within  gunshot, 
and  threatened  to  come  to  close  action  at  the  first 
opportunity.  Fully  aware  of  his  danger,  Captain 
Boyle  hastened  to  take  possession  of  his  second 
prize,  the  merchant  brig,  but  in  doing  so  passed  the 
ship  and  ordered  her  commander  to  follow.  The 
Englishmen  then  called  out  that  their  ship  was  in 
a  sinking  condition,  having  many  shot  holes  between 
wind  and  water  and  with  nearly  all  their  rigging 
cut  away.  They  intimated,  however,  that  they 
would  carry  out  the  order  with  all  possible  dispatch. 
At  half  past  one  in  the  morning  the  Americans  took 

1818.          BATTLE  WITH  A  PORTUGUESE  CRUISER.  287 

possession  of  the  merchant  brig  and  placed  a  prize 
crew  aboard.  The  Portuguese,  however,  followed 
the  Comet  closely,  endeavoring  to  prevent  her  from 
securing  the  other  vessels.  This  compelled  Captain 
Boyle  to  fire  an  occasional  broadside  at  the  cruiser, 
so  as  to  keep  them  at  a  more  respectful  distance.  At 
one  time  they  fired  into  the  brig  held  by  the  Ameri- 
cans, but  could  not  induce  the  prize  crew  to  sur- 

By  two  o'clock  the  moon  was  down,  and,  as  the 
weather  blew  up  squally,  Captain  Boyle  became 
separated  from  his  prizes.  The  Portuguese  man-of- 
war  at  that  time  was  standing  southward  in  the 
direction  of  the  prize  brig  and  ship  and  was  soon 
lost  to  view.  Captain  Boyle  now  deemed  it  prudent 
to  remain  until  daylight  by  his  prize,  which  proved  to 
be  the  brig  Bowes.  From  the  master  of  this  ves- 
sel it  was  learned  that  the  other  vessels  of  the  con- 
voy were  laden  with  wheat. 

For  the  remainder  of  the  night  the  Comet  kept 
near  her  prize,  and  as  day  began  to  dawn  the  Por- 
tuguese man-of-war  was  discovered  bearing  down 
on  her.  The  privateer  promptly  hove  about  and 
stood  for  her,  when  the  war  brig  tacked  and  made 
signals  for  the  convoy  to  make  for  the  first  port. 
Observing  that  the  English  ship  and  second  brig 
seemed  to  be  in  a  very  distressed  condition,  Captain 
Boyle  determined  not  to  take  possession  of  them, 
but  to  watch  their  maneuvers.  Both  of  them  bore 
up  before  the  wind,  making  for  land  in  company  with 
the  man-of-war,  the  last  appearing  to  be  much  dam- 
aged. The  Americans  followed  the  three  crippled 
ships,  and  could  see  that  extraordinary  exertions 
were  being  made  to  keep  the  ship  and  the  brig  afloat. 
With  great  difficulty  the  three  vessels  gained  the 
harbor  of  Pernambuco;  the  ship,  which  proved  to 
be  the  George,  Captain  Wilson,  of  Liverpool,  with 
her  masts  tottering  and  her  cargo  destroyed  so  that 
she  had  to  be  dismantled;  and  the  brig,  the  Gambia,, 

288  CAPTAIN  THOMAS  BOYLE.  1813. 

Captain  Smith,  of  Hull,  in  much  the  same  plight. 
The  man-of-war  was  seriously  damaged,  besides  hav- 
ing her  first  lieutenant  and  five  men  killed  and  a 
number  wounded.  Among  the  latter  was  her  com- 
mander, who  had  his  thigh  shattered  by  a  cannon 
ball  and  died  .shortly  after  reaching  Pernambuco. 
Several  American  gentlemen,  a  few  months  after 
this  action,  happened  to  be  in  Lisbon  when  this  man- 
of-war  brig  was  there.  They  visited  her,  and  re- 
ported that  she  was  "  a  very  large  vessel,  with  high 
bulwarks  and  a  very  formidable  battery." 

Scarcely  had  the  Portuguese  gained  the  harbor 
of  Pernambuco  with  her  crippled  convoy  when  Cap- 
tain Boyle,  with  his  rich  prize,  was  again  scouring 
the  high  seas  in  search  of  British  merchantmen.  He 
soon  had  the  good  fortune  to  seize  the  Scotch  ship 
Adelphi,  of  Aberdeen,  of  thirty-six  tons,  from  Liver- 
pool bound  for  Bahia.  She  was  laden  with  salt  and 
drygoods,  and,  although  well  manned  and  armed 
with  eight  long  12-pounders,  her  commander  made 
no  serious  resistance.  The  prize  was  manned  and 
ordered  to  the  United  States.  Subsequently  the 
Comet  was  chased  by  the  British  frigate  Surprise, 
which  was  justly  regarded  as  being  one  of  the  swift- 
est vessels  on  the  station.  By  superior  seamanship 
Captain  Boyle  effected  his  escape  and  continued  his 
successful  cruise  in  the  West  Indies. 

At  daylight  February  6,  1813,  while  some  twelve 
miles  off  the  island  of  St.  John's  Captain  Boyle  dis- 
covered two  brigs  to  leeward  and  made  all  sail  in 
chase  of  them.  The  nearest  craft  was  soon  made  out 
to  be  armed,  and  Captain  Boyle  sent  his  men  to 
quarters.  By  six  o'clock  this  brig  hoisted  English 
colors,  fired  a  gun,  but,  observing  that  she  was  in 
the  presence  of  a  vessel  of  superior  force,  prompt- 
ly hauled  down  her  flag.  She  was  the  Alexis,  of 
Greenock,  from  Demerara,  laden  with  sugar,  rum, 
cotton,  and  coffee.  Placing  a  Mr.  Ball  and  six  men 
aboard,  and  receiving  most  of  the  prisoners  in  the 

1813.  A  FUTILE  TRICK. 

Comet,  Captain  Boyle  ordered  her  to  the  United 
States,  and  made  sail  for  the  second  brig.  By  eight 
o'clock  a  third  brig,  apparently  a  war  ship,  was  dis- 
covered standing  to  the  southeast.  From  his  prison- 
ers Captain  Boyle  learned  that  these  vessels  were 
a  part  of  a  convoy  of  nine  sail  that  had  left  Deme- 
rara  for  St.  Thomas  some  days  before,  and  that  most 
of  them  had  got  into  port  the  preceding  night,  but 
that  the  man-of-war  then  in  sight,  and  named  the 
Swaggerer,  with  two  brigs,  had  failed  to  make  the 

Learning  this,  Captain  Boyle  prepared  to  give  the 
brig  he  had  been  chasing  a  broadside  as  he  passed 
her,  hoping  to  compel  her  to  surrender  before  the 
man-of-war  could  aid  her.  At  nine  o'clock  the  Comet 
showed  her  colors,  and  being  nearly  up  with  the 
chase  received  the  enemy's  fire,  which  was  promptly 
returned.  The  effect  of  this  was  to  induce  the  Eng- 
lishmen to  surrender,  but  before  the  Americans 
could  get  aboard  the  British  master,  in  pursuance 
with  the  "  recommendations  "  of  the  Admiralty,  al- 
ready noted,  caused  his  topsail  and  jib  halyards  and 
other  rigging  to  be  cut  away,  in  addition  to  the  dam- 
age done  by  the  American  shot — which  was  consid- 
erable— hoping  thereby  so  to  cripple  his  ship  that  it 
would  be  impossible  for  the  Americans  to  get  her 
under  sufficient  sail  to  escape  the  man-of-war. 

Captain  Boyle  saw  the  trick,  and  promptly  sent 
First  Officer  Cashell  and  several  men  aboard  to 
take  possession  and  repair  damages  as  rapidly  as 
possible.  Meantime  most  of  the  prisoners  were  sent 
aboard  the  Comet  and  secured  below.  All  this  time 
the  man-of-war  was  rapidly  approaching,  and,  her 
rigging  and  decks  full  of  men,  could  be  made  out  dis- 
tinctly. Seeing  that  he  must  either  run  or  fight  a 
vastly  superior  force,  Captain  Boyle  sent  Mr.  Gilpin 
and  seven  men  to  aid  Mr.  Cashell,  ordering  them  to 
get  up  what  sail  they  could,  and- make  their  way 
through  the  passage  between  the  islands  of  St. 

290  CAPTAIN  THOMAS  BOYLE.  1813. 

John's  and  St.  Thomas.  Mr.  Cashell  followed  out  the 
order  as  well  as  he  could,  while  the  Comet  advanced 
toward  the  Swaggerer  as  if  to  offer  battle.  Not  that 
Captain  Boyle  intended  to  make  his  ship  an  easy  prey 
for  the  cruiser,  for  he  fully  realized  that  he  was  in 
the  presence  of  hopeless  odds,  but  he  hoped  to  divert 
the  enemy's  attention  from  his  prize  to  himself,  and 
then  trust  to  his  skill  and  seamanship  to  escape. 
The  reason  for  thus  exposing  his  own  vessel  to  cap- 
ture was  because  the  prize  had  an  unusually  valu- 
able cargo.  She  was  the  packet  Dominica,  of  Liver- 
pool, from  Demerara  bound  for  St.  Thomas,  and  was 
laden  with  rum,  sugar,  cotton,  and  coffee. 

Captain  Boyle  allowed  the  Swaggerer  to  come 
within  long  gunshot  of  the  Comet,  when  he  put  his 
vessel  through  a  series  of  maneuvers,  with  a  view  to 
test  the  relative  speed  of  the  two  vessels.  Finding 
that  he  could  easily  outpoint  and  outsail  the  Eng- 
lishman, he  began  to  tantalize  the  Swaggerer  by  sail- 
ing under  her  nose,  "  at  long  balls,"  and  tempting 
her  into  the  continuance  of  a  hopeless  chase,  during 
which  time  the  Dominica  was  making  the  best  of 
her  way  through  the  passage.  Captain  Boyle  kept 
up  these  tactics  until  about  noon,  when,  seeing  that 
his  prize  was  at  a  safe  distance,  he  headed  the  Comet 
northward  so  as  to  pass  round  to  the  windward  of 
St.  John's,  the  Swaggerer  still  in  hot  pursuit. 

By  two  o'clock  in  the  afternoon  the  Comet  had  so 
increased  her  lead  that  she  was  fully  four  miles  to 
windward  of  the  enemy,  and  no  one  aboard  the  pri- 
vateer felt  the  least  alarm  for  the  safety  of  the 
schooner.  At  that  moment  a  sail  was  reported  on 
the  weather  bow,  and  an  hour  later  it  was  seen  to  be 
a  schooner  running  before  the  wind.  Changing  his 
course  a  little,  Captain  Boyle  ran  alongside,  and, 
after  firing  several  musket  shots,  induced  the 
stranger  to  surrender.  She  was  found  to  be  the 
schooner  Jane,  from  Demerara  to  St.  Thomas,  laden 
with  rum,  sugar,  and  coffee.  Meantime,  the  Swag- 

1813-1814   THE  SWAGGERER'S  HUMOROUS  CHASE.  291 

gerer  had  been  tumbling  along,  far  in  the  rear 
of  the  swift  Comet,  in  a  hopeless  effort  to  over- 
take her.  Her  lumbering  efforts  to  reach  the  swift 
privateer  only  afforded  amusement  for  our  officers, 
and  after  coolly  transferring  the  prisoners  to  his 
own  ship  and  placing  Prize-Master  Wild  and  six  men 
aboard  the  Jane,  with  instructions  to  go  through 
the  passage  between  Tortola  and  St.  John's,  Cap- 
tain Boyle  leisurely  resumed  his  course  and  soon 
ran  his  enraged  pursuer  out  of  sight. 

Finding  that  he  was  overburdened  with  prison- 
ers Captain  Boyle  made  for  the  United  States,  and 
on  March  17th,  in  spite  of  the  vigilance  of  the  British 
blockading  squadron,  gained  Chesapeake  Bay  and 
arrived  in  Baltimore.  Some  of  the  other  prizes 
taken  by  the  Comet  were  the  schooner  Messenger,  from 
the  West  Indies,  laden  with  rum  and  molasses,  which 
was  sent  into  Wilmington,  North  Carolina,  and  the 
Vigilant,  a  tender  to  the  British  admiral  of  the  Wind- 
ward Island  squadron,  which  also  was  sent  into  Wil- 
mington. Nine  of  the  vessels  taken  by  the  Comet 
were  divested  of  their  most  valuable  articles  and 
sunk,  as  there  was  too  much  risk  in  attempting  to 
send  them  into  port.  The  Comet,  in  1814,  had  a  fierce 
action  with  the  22-gun  ship  Hibernia,  of  eight  hun- 
dred tons,  having  on  board  a  large  complement  of 
officers  and  men.  After  a  running  fight  lasting 
eight  hours  the  Englishman  escaped,  having  sus- 
tained a  loss  of  eight  men  killed  and  thirteen 
wounded  to  three  men  killed  and  sixteen  wounded 
on  the  part  of  the  Americans.  The  Comet  put  into 
Porto  Eico  for  repairs  where  she  found  one  of  her 
prizes.  Being  short  of  provisions  her  prize  master 
asked  for  a  supply.  Instead  of  granting  the  request, 
the  local  authorities  seized  her  and  gave  her  to  the 
British.  In  all,  the  Comet  is  credited  with  twenty- 
seven  prizes. 

So  great  had  been  the  success  of  Captain  Boyle 
in  the  Comet  that  soon  after  his  return  from  his  last 

292  CAPTAIN  THOMAS  BOYLE.  1813-1814. 

cruise  he  was  placed  in  command  of  the  formidable 
privateer  Chasseur,  in  which  craft  he  achieved  his 
greatest  renown.  This  vessel  probably  was  one  of 
the  best  equipped  and  manned  privateers  that  sailed 
in  this  war.  She  was  familiarly  called  the  Pride 
of  Baltimore,  mounting  sixteen  long  12-pounders  and 
usually  carrying  a  complement  of  one  hundred  offi- 
cers, seamen,  and  marines.  Speaking  of  her  sail- 
ing qualities  a  Baltimore  paper  said :  "  She  is,  per- 
haps, the  most  beautiful  vessel  that  ever  floated  on 
the  ocean.  Those  who  have  not  seen  our  schooners 
have  but  little  idea  of  her  appearance.  As  you  look 
at  her  ytfu  may  easily  figure  to  yourself  the  idea  that 
she  is  almost  about  to  rise  out  of  the  water  and  fly 
into  the  air,  seeming  to  sit  so  lightly.  She  has  carried 
terror  and  alarm  throughout  the  West  Indies,  as  ap- 
pears by  numerous  extracts  from  the  West  Indian 
papers  received  by  her.  She  was  frequently  chased 
by  British  vessels  sent  out  on  purpose  to  catch  her. 
She  was  once  pretty  hard  run  by  the  frigate  Bareosa; 
but  sometimes,  out  of  sheer  wantonness,  she  affected 
to  chase  the  enemy's  men-of-war  of  far  superior 

In  his  first  cruise  in  this  formidable  vessel  Cap- 
tain Boyle  captured  eighteen  merchantmen,  nearly 
all  of  them  of  great  value.  Some  of  these  were  the 
sloop  Christiana,  of  Kilkade,  Scotland;  the  brig  Rein- 
deer, of  Aberdeen;  schooner  Favorite,  laden  with 
wine;  the  brig  Marquis  of  Cornwallis;  the  brigs  Alert 
and  Harmony,  from  Newfoundland;  the  ship  Carl- 
bury,  of  London,  from  Jamaica,  laden  with  cotton, 
cocoa,  hides,  indigo,  etc.  (the  goods  taken  from  this 
vessel  were  valued  at  fifty  thousand  dollars);  the 
brigs  Eclipse,  Commerce,  and  Antelope-,  the  schooner 
Fox;  the  ships  James  and  Theodore;  and  the  brigs 
Atlantic  and  Amicus.  The  Chasseur  brought  into  port 
forty-three  prisoners,  having  released  on  parole  one 
hundred  and  fifty. 

Captain  Boyle's  favorite  cruising  ground  was  in 

1814.  "SUPERB  AUDACITY."  293 

the  British  Channel  and  around  the  coasts  of  Great 
Britain.  He  seemed  to  act  on  the  principle  which 
led  Farragut  to  immortal  fame  half  a  century  later, 
namely:  "The  nearer  you  get  to  your  enemy  the 
harder  you  can  strike."  By  thus  "  bearding  the  lion 
in  his  den  "  the  Chasseur  had  some  exceedingly  nar- 
row escapes,  but  always  eluded  the  enemy  by  her 
fine  sailing  qualities  and  by  the  superb  audacity  of 
her  commander.  At  one  time  the  privateer  was 
so  near  a  British  frigate  as  to  exchange  an  effective 
broadside  with  her,  and  not  long  afterward  she  was 
completely  surrounded  by  two  frigates  and  two 
brigs  of  war.  In  making  a  dash  to  escape,  the  Chas- 
seur received  a  shot  from  one  of  the  frigates,  which 
wounded  three  men,  but  in  spite  of  the  danger  she 
finally  eluded  the  enemy. 

The  "superb  audacity"  of  Captain  Boyle  has 
already  been  mentioned,  not  that  it  was  peculiar  to 
him,  for  it  was  shared  more  or  less  by  all  our  priva- 
teersmen,  but  because  it  was  exhibited  by  him  on 
this  cruise  in  a  unique  and  emphatic  manner.  It 
had  been  the  custom  of  British  admirals  on  the 
American  stations  to  issue  "paper  blockades,"  de- 
claring the  entire  coast  of  the  United  States  to  be 
blockaded.  Several  of  these  "paper  blockades" 
had  been  recently  issued  by  Admiral  Sir  John  Bor- 
laise  Warren  and  by  Admiral  Sir  Alexander  Coch- 
rane.  On  the  strength  of  these  foolish  proclama- 
tions British  cruisers  were  withdrawn,  at  will,  from 
the  ports  blockaded  and  transferred  to  other  points 
along  the  coast  without — at  least  in  the  estimation 
of  the  English  admirals — in  the  least  invalidating 
the  blockade.  To  show  the  absurdity  of  these  procla- 
mations, Captain  Boyle,  while  cruising  in  the  Eng- 
lish Channel,  sent  by  a  cartel  to  London  the  follow- 
ing proclamation,  which  he  "  requested "  to  •  be 
posted  in  Lloyd's  Coffee  House: 

294  CAPTAIN  THOMAS  BOYLB.  1814. 

"  By  Thomas  Boyle,  Esquire,  Commander  of  the  Private 
Armed  Brig  Chasseur,  etc. 


"  Whereas,  It  has  become  customary  with  the  ad- 
mirals of  Great  Britain,  commanding  small  forces 
on  the  coast  of  the  United  States,  particularly  with 
Sir  John  Borlaise  Warren  and  Sir  Alexander  Coch- 
rane,  to  declare  all  the  coast  of  the  said  United 
States  in  a  state  of  strict  and  rigorous  blockade 
without  possessing  the  power  to  justify  such  a  decla- 
ration or  stationing  an  adequate  force  to  maintain 
said  blockade; 

"  I  do  therefore,  by  virtue  of  the  power  and  au- 
thority in  me  vested  (possessing  sufficient  force),  de- 
clare all  the  ports,  harbors,  bays,  creeks,  rivers,  in- 
lets, outlets,  islands,  and  seacoast  of  the  United 
Kingdom  of  Great  Britain  and  Ireland  in  a  state  of 
strict  and  rigorous  blockade. 

"And  I  do  further  declare  that  I  consider  the 
force  under  my  command  adequate  to  maintain 
strictly,  rigorously,  and  effectually  the  said  block- 

"  And  I  do  hereby  require  the  respective  officers, 
whether  captains,  commanders,  or  commanding 
officers,  under  my  command,  employed  or  to  be  em- 
ployed, on  the  coasts  of  England,  Ireland,  and  Scot- 
land, to  pay  strict  attention  to  the  execution  of  this 
my  proclamation. 

"  And  I  do  hereby  caution  and  forbid  the  ships 
and  vessels  of  all  and  every  nation  in  amity  and 
peace  with  the  United  States  from  entering  or  at- 
tempting to  enter,  or  from  coming  or  attempting 
to  come  out  of,  any  of  the  said  ports,  harbors,  bays, 
creeks,  rivers,  inlets,  outlets,  islands,  or  seacoast 
under  any  pretense  whatsoever.  And  that  no  per- 
son may  plead  ignorance  of  this,  my  proclamation, 

1814-1815.      WAIL  OF  ST.  VINCENT  MERCHANTS.  295 

I  have  ordered  the  same  to  be  made  public  in  Eng- 
land.    Given  under  my  hand  on  board  the  Chasseur. 


"  By  command  of  the  commanding  officer. 
"  J.  J.  STANBTJRY,  Secretary." 

Quite  in  keeping  with  Captain  Boyle's  audacity 
is  the  memorial  presented  by  the  merchants  of  St. 
Vincent  to  Admiral  Durham,  in  which  it  is  stated 
that  the  Chasseur  had  blockaded  them  for  five  days, 
doing  much  damage,  and  requesting  that  the  admiral 
would  sent  them  at  least  "  a  heavy  sloop  of  war." 
The  frigate  Bareosa  was  sent.  The  memorial  gave 
a  pitiful  account  of  how  the  Chasseur  was  frequently 
chased  "  in  vain,"  at  one  time  by  three  cruisers  to- 
gether. It  then  quotes  a  letter  from  Martinique 
stating  that  this  vessel  was  permitted  to  supply  her- 
self with  a  new  boom,  that  the  captain  was  treated 
very  politely,  that  on  Sunday  he  dined  with  M.  Du 
Buc,  the  French  intendant  at  the  island,  "  a  fine  com- 
panion, truly,  for  the  governor  of  such  a  colony  as 
Martinique."  The  memorial  further  complained  that 
the  Cliasseur  ventured  within  gunshot  of  the  forts 
of  St.  Lucia  to  cut  out  the  transport  Lord  Eldon,  and 
probably  would  have  done  it  but  for  the  sloop  of  war 
Wolverine,  which  hove  in  sight;  that  the  Chasseur 
burned  two  sloops  "in  the  face  of  the  island" — 
possibly  a  West  Indian  form  of  the  expression 
"  under  their  noses  "  ;  that  she  hoisted  the  Yankee 
stripes  over  the  British  ensign  "  and  played  many 
curious  pranks  "  ;  and  other  complaints  in  the  same 
tenor.  The  Chasseur  arrived  in  New  York  from  her 
European  cruise  in  October,  1814 

It  was  in  his  last  cruise  in  this  war  that  Captain 
Boyle  gained  his  greatest  reputation  for  daring  and 
success  on  the  high  seas.  On  February  26,  1815, 
when  the  Chasseur  was  about  thirty-six  miles  to 
windward  of  Havana  and  some  twelve  miles  from 
land,  a  schooner  was  discovered,  about  eleven 

296  CAPTAIN  THOMAS  BOYLE.  1815. 

o'clock  in  the  morning,  to  the  northeast,  apparently 
running  before  the  wind.  This  was  the  English  war 
schooner  St.  Lawrence,  Lieutenant  Henry  Cranmer 
Gordon,  which,  as  we  remember,  was  the  American 
privateer  Atlas,  Captain  David  Maffitt,  captured  by 
boats  from  Rear-Admiral  Cockburn's  squadron  in 
Ocracoke  Inlet,  July  12, 1813,1  the  Atlas  having  been 
taken  into  the  British  service  under  the  new  name. 
The  St.  Lawrence  proved  to  be  a  valuable  addition 
to  the  enemy's  fleet,  taking  an  active  part  in  their 
many  expeditions  along  the  coast  and  acting  as  a 
dispatch  boat,  in  which  service  her  fine  sailing  quali- 
ties gave  her  every  advantage.  Here  we  have  an  ad- 
mirable opportunity  to  compare  the  relative  merits 
of  American  and  British  man-of-warsmen;  for  the 
St.  Lawrence,  being  built  and  equipped  by  Americans, 
deprives  our  friends,  the  English,  of  their  oft-re- 
peated cry  that  our  vessels  were  better  built,  etc. 
The  Chasseur  carried  fourteen  guns  and  one  hundred 
and  two  men,  as  opposed  to  the  St.  Lawrence's  thir- 
teen guns  and  seventy-six  men.  Both  vessels  were 
schooners.  When  sighted  by  Captain  Boyle,  the 
St.  Lawrence  was  bearing  important  dispatches  and 
troops  from  Rear- Admiral  Cockburn  relative  to  the 
New  Orleans  expedition. 

Captain  Boyle  promptly  made  sail  in  chase,  and 
soon  discovered  the  stranger  to  be  a  war  craft  hav- 
ing a  convoy  in  company,  the  latter  being  just  dis- 
cernible from  the  masthead.  By  noon  the  Chasseur 
had  perceptibly  gained  on  the  chase,  which  to  the 
Americans  appeared  to  be  a  long,  narrow  pilot-boat 
schooner  with  yellow  sides.  When  she  made  out  the 
Chasseur  she  hauled  up  more'  to  the  north,  evidently 
anxious  to  escape.  At  half  past  twelve  Captain 
Boyle  fired  a  gun  and  showed  his  colors,  hoping  to 
ascertain  to  what  nation  the  chase  belonged,  but 
the  latter  paid  no  attention  to  the  summons,  and  in 

1  See  pp.  260-262. 

1815.  ACTION  WITH  THE  ST.  LAWRENCE.  297 

her  efforts  to  carry  a  greater  press  of  sail  her  fore- 
topmast  was  carried  away. 

At  the  time  this  happened  she  was  about  three 
miles  ahead.  Her  people  promptly  cleared  the 
wreck  away  and  trimmed  her  sails  sharp  by  the 
wind.  Owing  to  this  accident  the  Chasseur  drew  up 
on  the  chase  very  fast,  and  at  one  o'clock  the  latter 
fired  a  stern  gun  and  hoisted  English  colors.  As  the 
stranger  showed  only  three  ports  on  the  side  near- 
est to  the  Chasseur,  Captain  Boyle  got  the  impression 
that  she  was  a  "  running  vessel "  bound  for  Havana 
which  in  all  probability  was  poorly  armed  and 
manned.  Acting  on  this  impression  he  increased  his 
efforts  to  get  alongside,  confident  of  making  short 
work  of  her.  This  mistake  of  the  Americans  was 
encouraged  by  the  fact  that  very  few  men  were  seen 
on  the  deck  of  the  stranger. 

As  neither  Captain  Boyle  nor  his  officers  antici- 
pated serious  fighting,  the  regular  preparations  for 
battle  were  not  made.  At  1.26  P.  M.  the  Chasseur 
was  within  pistol  shot  of  the  enemy,  when  the  latter 
suddenly  triced  up  ten  port  covers,  showing  that 
number  of  guns  and  her  decks  swarming  with  men 
wearing  the  uniform  of  a  regular  British  man-of- 
war.  Evidently  they  had  been  carefully  concealed 
during  the  chase.  It  took  the  enemy  scarcely  five 
seconds  to  give  three  cheers,  run  out  their  guns, 
and  pour  in  a  whole  broadside  of  round  shot,  grape, 
and  musket  balls  into  the  Chasseur.  For  once,  at 
least,  the  crafty  Yankee  skipper  had  been  caught 
napping.  He  was  fairly  and  squarely  under  the 
guns  of  an  English  man-of-war,  so  that  either  prompt 
surrender  or  fight  were  the  only  alternatives.  It  did 
not  take  Captain  Boyle  an  instant  to  decide  on  the 
latter  course,  and,  although  taken  somewhat  by  sur- 
prise, he  made  the  best  of  the  situation  and  returned 
the  enemy's  fire  with  both  cannon  and  musketry. 

Believing  that  his  best  chance  for  victory  was  at 
close  quarters,  Captain  Boyle  endeavored  to  board 

298  CAPTAIN  THOMAS  BOYLE.  '"  1816. 

in  the  smoke  of  his  broadside;  but  the  Chasseur, 
having  the  greater  speed  at  that  moment,  shot  ahead 
under  the  stranger's  lee.  The  latter  put  up  his  helm 
for  the  purpose  of  wearing  across  the  privateer's 
stern,  with  a  view  of  pouring  in  a  raking  fire.  Per- 
ceiving the  enemy's  object,  Captain  Boyle  frustrated 
the  maneuver  by  putting  his  helm  up  also.  The  Eng- 
lishman now  forged  ahead  and  came  within  ten  yards 
of  the  privateer,  the  fire  of  both  vessels  at  that  time 
being  exceedingly  destructive.  At  1.40  P.  M.  Cap- 
tain Boyle,  seizing  a  favorable  moment,  put  his  helm 
to  starboard  and  called  on  his  men  to  follow  him 
aboard  the  enemy.  Just  as  the  two  vessels  came  to- 
gether W.  N.  Christie,  prize  master,  jumped  aboard 
the  stranger's  deck,  followed  by  a  number  of  other 
Americans,  but  before  they  could  strike  a  blow  the 
English  surrendered. 

The  8t.  Lawrence,  according  to  British  accounts, 
mounted  twelve  short  12-pounders  and  one  long  9- 
pounder  and  had  a  complement  of  seventy-five  men, 
besides  a  number  of  officers,  soldiers,  and  civilians 
as  passengers,  who  were  bound  for  the  British  squad- 
ron off  New  Orleans.  According  to  the  report  of  her 
commander  she  had  six  men  killed  and  seventeen 
wounded,  several  of  them  mortally.  According  to 
American  accounts  the  English  had  fifteen  killed 
and  twenty-five  wounded.  The  St.  Lawrence  was 
found  to  be  seriously  injured  in  the  hull,  while 
scarcely  a  rope  was  left  intact,  such  had  been  the 
accuracy  and  rapidity  of  the  Chasseur's  fire.  The 
privateer  also  suffered  considerably  in  her  sails  and 
rigging,  while  five  of  her  crew  were  killed  and  eight 
wounded,  among  the  latter  being  Captain  Boyle  him- 
self. In  view  of  the  fact  that  the  action  lasted  only 
fifteen  minutes  these  casualties  reveal,  better  than 
words,  the  desperate  nature  of  the  encounter.  The 
Chasseur  mounted  six  12-pounders  and  eight  short 
9-pounders— ten  of  her  original  sixteen  12-pounders 
having  been  thrown  overboard  when  the  privateer 

1815.  ACTION  WITH  THE  ST.  LAWRENCE.  299 

was  chased  by  the  British  frigate  Bareosa.  They 
were  replaced  by  the  9-pounders  which  had  been 
taken  from  a  prize. 

"  From  the  number  of  hammocks,  bedding,  etc., 
found  on  board  the  enemy,"  said  Captain  Boyle,  in 
his  official  report  to  one  of  the  owners  of  the  Chas- 
seur, George  P.  Stephenson,  of  Baltimore,  "  it  led  us 
to  believe  that  many  more  were  killed  than  were 
reported.  The  St.  Lawrence  fired  double  the  weight 
of  shot  that  we  did.  From  her  12-pounders  at  close 
quarters  she  fired  a  stand  of  grape  and  two  bags 
containing  two  hundred  and  twenty  musket  balls 
each,  when  from  the  Chasseur's  9-pounders  were  fired 
6-  and  4-pound  shot,  we  having  no  other  except 
some  few  grape."  In  closing  his  report,  Captain 
Boyle  speaks  in  the  highest  terms  of  the  gallantry 
of  his  first  officer,  John  Dieter,  and  of  the  sec- 
ond and  third  officers,  Moran  and  Hammond  N. 

That  night  the  masts  of  the  St.  Lawrence  went  by 
the  board,  and  having  no  object  in  bringing  home  so 
many  prisoners  Captain  Boyle  made  a  cartel  of  his 
prize  and  sent  the  prisoners  by  her  into  Havana. 
After  this  gallant  affair  the  Chasseur  returned  to 
the  United  States  with  her  hold  filled  with  valuable 
goods.  She  arrived  in  Baltimore,  April  15,  1815, 
where  it  was  learned  that  a  treaty  of  peace  had  been 
signed.  So  well  pleased  were  the  British  officers  at 
the  treatment  they  received  from  the  Americans 
that  Lieutenant  Gordon  issued  the  following  me- 
morial or  certificate  dated:  "At  Sea,  February  27, 
1815,  on  board  the  United  States  Privateer  Chas- 
seur: In  the  event  of  Captain  Boyle's  becoming  a 
prisoner  of  war  to  any  British  cruiser  I  consider  it  a 
tribute  justly  due  to  his  humane  and  generous  treat- 
ment of  myself,  the  surviving  officers  and  crew  of 
His  Majesty's  late  schooner  St.  Lawrence,  to  state 
that  his  obliging  attention  and  watchful  solicitude 
to  preserve  our  effects  and  render  us  comfortable 

300  CAPTAIN  THOMAS  BOYLE.  1815. 

during  the  short  time  we  were  in  his  possession 
were  such  as  justly  entitle  him  to  the  indulgence 
and  respect  of  every  British  subject.  I  also  certify 
that  his  endeavors  to  render  us  comfortable  and  to 
secure  our  property  were  carefully  seconded  by  all 
his  officers,  who  did  their  utmost  to  that  effect." 



ONE  of  the  most  distinguished  American  priva- 
teersmen  in  the  War  of  1812  was  Captain  Joshua 
Barney,  whose  career  both  in  the  United  States  navy 
and  in  the  privateer  service  during  the  Revolution 
has  been  already  noted  in  this  work.  At  the  close  of 
the  struggle  for  independence  Barney,  like  all  his 
brother  officers  in  the  navy,  retired  to  private  life. 
While  trading  in  the  West  Indies,  as  commander 
of  the  fine  coppered  ship  Sampson,  Barney,  on  July 
12,  1793,  fell  in  with  three  English  privateers,  two 
from  Jamaica  and  one  from  New  Providence,  and 
was  boarded.  On  looking  over  his  papers  the  officers 
from  the  Jamaica  privateers  permitted  him  to  go 
free,  but  the  commander  of  the  New  Providence 
craft  declared  that  the  iron  chest,  containing  eight- 
een thousand  dollars  in  specie,  was  suspicious,  and 
that  "  no  American  master  ever  had  iron  chests  or 
dollars  on  board  his  vessel,"  and  that  he  was  willing 
to  let  the  vessel  go  free  if  the  money  were  given  up. 
As  Barney  refused  to  submit  to  the  robbery,  his  crew 
was  taken  aboard  the  privateer,  with  the  exception 
of  the  carpenter,  boatswain,  and  cook,  and  a  guard 
of  eleven  men  was  placed  in  charge,  with  orders  to 
follow  the  privateer  into  New  Providence;  notwith- 
standing the  two  nations  were  at  peace. 

In  the  course  of  the  afternoon  Barney  managed 
to  communicate  with  his  carpenter,  boatswain,  and 
cook,  and  found  them  ready  to  act  with  him  in  any 



effort  to  recapture  their  ship.  The  British  prize 
crew  behaved  in  the  most  offensive  manner  toward 
their  victims,  calling  them  "rebel  rascals,"  "Yan- 
kee traitors,"  and  threatening  to  "  blow  their  brains 
out "  and  "  to  throw  them  overboard,"  at  the  same 
time  searching  the  ship  and  helping  themselves  to 
articles  of  value  after  the  most  approved  piratical 
fashion.  On  the  evening  of  July  19th,  five  days  after 
their  capture,  Barney  learned  that  each  of  his  men 
had  possessed  himself  of  a  gun  and  bayonet,  which 
they  concealed  in  their  berths,  while  Barney  himself 
managed  to  secrete  a  brass  blunderbuss  and  a  broad- 
sword. It  was  not  long  before  the  Americans  had 
arranged  a  plan  of  attack.  The  following  day  being 
rainy  and  squally,  the  prize  crew  was  kept  busy 
navigating  the  ship.  At  noon  hour  the  three  prize 
officers  dined  together  on  a  hencoop  near  the  main- 
mast, while  their  men,  except  the  one  at  the  helm, 
messed  on  the  forecastle. 

This  was  the  moment  chosen  by  Barney  to  re- 
capture his  ship.  Stepping  to  the  roundhouse  he 
picked  up  his  naked  sword,  put  it  under  his  arm, 
seized  the  blunderbuss,  cocked  it,  and,  joined  by  his 
carpenter  and  boatswain,  who  also  had  armed  them- 
selves, advanced  upon  the  three  officers  seated  upon 
the  quarter-deck.  One  of  these  officers  immediately 
sprang  upon  Barney,  closing  with  him,  and  endeav- 
ored to  wrest  the  blunderbuss  from  his  hand,  but 
in  the  scuffle  the  weapon  went  off  and  lodged  its 
charge  of  buckshot  in  the  Englishman's  right  arm, 
who  then  yielded.  Barney  then  knocked  down  the 
second  officer  with  a  blow  on  the  head  with  his 
broadsword,  while  the  third  man  ran  below.  The 
seven  seamen  who  were  on  the  forecastle,  on  hearing 
the  discharge  of  the  blunderbuss,  ran  into  the  fore- 
castle to  get  their  arms,  but  before  they  could  re- 
gain the  deck  the  carpenter  and  boatswain  had 
fastened  the  scuttle  and  made  prisoners  of  them. 

The  Americans  were  now  in  full  possession  of 

1798-1794.       ATTEMPTED  MURDER  OF  BARNEY.  303 

their  ship,  and  on  the  prize  crew  promising  to  serve 
their  new  masters  they  were  allowed  to  come  on 
deck,  one  at  a  time,  where  their  arms  were  taken 
from  them  and  thrown  overboard.  The  course  of  the 
ship  was  then  changed  to  Baltimore.  For  many  days 
the  Americans  maintained  a  most  anxious  watch 
over  their  prisoners.  Barney  kept  the  deck  night 
and  day,  sleeping  only  at  daytime,  in  an  armchair, 
with  his  sword  between  his  legs  and  pistols  in  his 
belt,  while  either  the  cook  or  boatswain  stood  guard 
beside  him,  armed  with  a  musket,  sword,  and  pistols. 
No  one,  unless  specially  called,  was  allowed  to  come 
abaft  the  mainmast  under  penalty  of  instant  death. 
In  this  manner  Barney  made  for  the  United  States, 
arriving  in  Baltimore  early  in  August. 

In  the  following  December  Barney  was  again 
trading  among  the  West  Indies,  again  in  command 
of  the  Sampson.  On  January  2,  1794,  he  was  seized 
by  the  British  frigate  Penelope,  Captain  Eowley. 
Barney  was  brought  aboard  the  frigate  and  treated 
with  great  severity,  and  carried,  with  his  men  and 
ship,  into  Port  Eoyal,  Jamaica,  where  he  was  in- 
dicted for  "  piracy  "  and  for  "  shooting  with  intent 
to  kill."  After  a  trial  he  was  adjudged  "  not 
guilty."  Meantime  he  had  been  seriously  delayed 
in  his  mercantile  pursuits.  Barney  was  convinced 
that  the  commander  of  the  Penelope  was  actuated  by 
malignant  feelings  against  him,  and  the  circum- 
stances in  the  case  seem  to  justify  that  belief.  When 
Barney  was  first  taken  aboard  the  frigate,  as  we 
have  seen,  Captain  Eowley  treated  him  in  a  most 
brutal  manner,  using  vulgar  and  unofflcer-like  lan- 
guage. Barney  resented  this,  and  very  properly  told 
the  English  commander  that  he  was  a  coward  to 
take  advantage  of  his  position  "to  insult  a  man 
whom  he  would  not  dare  to  meet  upon  equal  terms, 
at  sea  or  on  shore;  that  the  opportunity  might  come 
for  retaliation,  when  he  should  remember  the  pol- 
troon who  commanded  the  English  frigate  Penelope." 


Captain  Rowley  interrupted  this  speech  by  ordering 
the  marines  to  place  the  American  between  two 
guns  with  a  sentinel  over  him,  who  had  orders,  given 
in  a  loud  voice,  "  to  blow  the  rascal's  brains  out " 
if  he  spoke  again  or  attempted  to  leave  the  space 
allotted  to  him. 

After  the  vessels  had  reached  Port  Royal  Captain 
Rowley  showed  himself  in  the  streets  every  day;  but 
after  the  trial,  when  Barney  was  again  free,  the  com- 
mander of  the  Penelope  kept  himself  aboard  ship. 
Barney  believed  that  this  was  done  to  avoid  a  per- 
sonal meeting.  One  evening,  about  dusk,  shortly 
after  the  trial,  Barney  was  walking  through  one  of 
the  streets  unattended,  when  he  suddenly  heard  a 
voice  from  the  opposite  side  calling  out: 

"Barney,  take  care  of  yourself!    Look  behind!" 

The  American  officer  whirled  round,  and  at  the 
same  time  drew  a  pistol  from  his  pocket.  He  was 
none  too  quick,  for  close  behind  him  was  a  ruffian  in 
sailor's  dress  with  uplifted  club  in  his  hand,  with 
which,  but  for  the  timely  warning,  he  would  have 
felled  Barney  to  the  ground.  On  the  sight  of  the 
pistol  the  ruffian  dropped  his  club  and  took  to  his 
heels.  On  inquiry  Barney  was  convinced  that  this 
man  was  one  of  the  Penelope's  crew,  and  had  been 
employed  by  Rowley  to  murder  him. 

This  belief  was  strengthened  a  few  days  later, 
when  Barney,  being  in  a  coffeehouse,  heard  his 
name  mentioned  in  an  insulting  manner,  coupled 
with  the  expressed  wish  of  the  speaker  to  "  meet  the 
rascal."  Barney  walked  up  to  the  group  where  the 
speaker  was  and  announced  himself  as  the  man 
sought.  The  speaker  proved  to  be  an  officer  of  the 
Penelope,  but  seemed  disinclined  to  gratify  his  de- 
sire of  "  meeting  the  rascal."  Thereupon  Barney 
tweaked  his  nose  and  kicked  the  cowardly  braggart 
out  of  the  coffeehouse,  as  much  to  the  amusement 
of  the  many  Americans  present  as  to  a  number  of 
British  army  and  navy  officers  who  had  become 

1796-1812.       THE  ROSSIE  PREPARES  FOR  SEA.  305 

disgusted  with  their  countryman's  insufferable 

In  1796  Barney  entered  the  French  navy,  where 
he  remained  several  years,  attaining  the  rank  of  com- 
modore. He  returned  to  the  United  States  in  1801 
and  again  became  a  private  citizen.  Hearing  of  the 
Chesapeake-Leopard  affair,  in  1807,  he  at  once  tendered 
his  services  to  the  Government,  but  as  that  incident 
was  amicably  adjusted  his  services  were  not  needed. 
It  was  not  surprising,  therefore,  that  an  officer  who 
had  served  with  such  distinction  in  both  the  Ameri- 
can and  French  navies,  and  also  in  the  privateer 
service,  should  be  eagerly  sought  at  the  beginning 
of  hostilities  with  Great  Britain  in  1812. 

As  soon  as  it  was  known  that  war  had  been  de- 
clared a  number  of  Baltimore  merchants  fitted  out 
the  fine  schooner  Rossie  and  tendered  the  command 
of  her  to  Captain  Barney.  The  Rossie  was  armed 
with  ten  short  12-pounders  and  three  long  guns,  and 
carried  a  crew  of  one  hundred  and  twenty  men. 
Captain  Barney,  like  the  thoroughbred  seaman  he 
was,  had  got  into  the  habit  of  being  very  careless  in 
money  matters.  Probably  few  seamen  of  his  period 
had  earned  so  much  money  as  he  during  a  career 
on  the  ocean.  Many  thousand  dollars  had  been 
credited  to  his  account,  but  they  were  quickly  scat- 
tered in  a  thoroughly  careless  manner  almost  as 
rapidly  as  received.  He  was  not  the  kind  of  a  jack 
tar  to  bother  his  head  about  ledgers  and  balance 
sheets,  and  when  on  land,  or  elsewhere,  he  ran  up 
bills  with  appalling  recklessness. 

It  seems  on  this  occasion  that  Captain  Barney 
had  incurred  an  indebtedness  amounting  to  some- 
thing like  one  thousand  dollars.  Such  an  insignifi- 
cant affair  as  this  gave  the  redoubtable  sailor,  who 
was  accustomed  to  make  his  thousands  in  one  cruise, 
no  more  concern  than  a  mosquito  bite,  and  he  was  so 
absorbed  in  his  preparations  of  again  getting  on  blue 
water  that  he  had  forgotten  this  trifling  obligation. 


Not  so,  however,  with  his  creditor.  Just  as  the  dis- 
tinguished seaman,  surrounded  by  crowds  of  well- 
wishers,  got  to  the  wharf,  and  was  about  to  step 
into  his  boat  to  put  off  to  the  Rossie,  a  deputy  sheriff 
gently  tapped  him  on  the  shoulder,  and,  expressing 
regret  at  being  obliged  to  detain  him,  said  duty  com- 
pelled him  to  report  that  there  was  a  "  suspicion  of 
debt"  against  him  to  the  amount  of  one  thousand 
dollars,  which  it  would  be  necessary  for  him  to  clear 
up  before  going  away.  Eemembering  that  the  "  sus- 
picion "  was  well  founded,  and  being  a  man  of  honor, 
Barney  quietly  gave  himself  up  to  the  officer,  who 
contented  himself  very  civilly  with  the  captain's 
word  that  he  would  make  his  appearance  when 
called  for. 

This,  of  course,  postponed  the  contemplated 
cruise — which,  though  short,  amounted  to  one  mil- 
lion and  a  half  dollars  in  captures — as  Barney  had  no 
means  of  meeting  the  obligation.  It  would  have  been 
very  easy  for  him  to  have  quietly  slipped  aboard  the 
Rossie  and  sailed  away  in  spite  of  the  sheriff,  and 
to  have  paid  the  indebtedness  out  of  the  profits  of 
the  cruise,  or  to  have  put  back  into  some  other  port 
where  the  sheriff  could  not  have  interfered  with 
him.  But  this  was  not  suited  to  the  taste  or  manli- 
ness of  Barney.  He  sauntered  aimlessly  about  the 
town,  not  knowing  what  to  do.  Finally,  as  he  was 
passing  through  South  Street,  he  reached  the  house 
of  his  friend,  Isaac  McKim.  Mr.  McKim  expressed 
much  surprise  at  seeing  Captain  Barney,  supposing 
that  by  that  time  the  privateersman  was  at  least 
half-way  to  the  Capes.  Barney  explained  the  cause 
of  the  delay,  upon  which  Mr.  McKim  promptly  made 
good  the  amount,  and  on  July  12,  1812,  only  twenty- 
four  days  after  the  declaration  of  war,  the  Rossie 
began  a  cruise  of  extraordinary  success. 

After  taking  several  merchantmen  of  great  value, 
the  Rossie,  on  August  9th,  fell  in  with  the  British 
privateer  ship  Jeannie,  of  twelve  guns,  6-  and  9- 


pounders.  After  a  sharp  action  the  Jeannie  sur- 
rendered. On  the  night  of  September  16th  Captain 
Barney  fell  in  with  the  British  Government  packet 
Princess  Amelia,  Captain  Moorsom.  The  Americans, 
being  armed  principally  with  short  guns,  quickly 
came  to  close  quarters,  and  as  there  was  moonlight 
they  were  able  to  fight  it  out.  The  enemy  availed 
themselves  of  this  by  concealing  their  sharpshooters 
in  the  shadows  of  the  mast,  rigging,  and  bulwarks, 
and  firing  with  comparative  impunity,  while  the 
Americans  in  the  Rossie  (that  ship  having  no  bul- 
warks) were  greatly  exposed.  After  a  severe  strug- 
gle, lasting  about  an  hour,  the  enemy  called  for 
quarter,  their  commander,  sailing  master,  and  one 
man  being  killed  and  seven  wounded  (ten  according 
to  another  account).  On  the  part  of  the  Americans, 
First  Officer  Long  was  mortally  injured  and  six  men 
were  wounded. 

After  a  cruise  of  ninety  days  the  Rossie  returned 
to  port,  having  captured  four  ships,  eight  brigs, 
three  schooners,  and  three  sloops,  valued  at  over  one 
million  five  hundred  thousand  dollars,  including  the 
cargoes.  Seven  of  these  vessels  were  burned  at  sea 
and  two  hundred  and  seventeen  prisoners  were 
taken,  many  of  whom  were  sent  to  Newfoundland 
in  one  of  the  brigs.  This  was  the  first  and  only 
cruise  of  Captain  Barney  in  this  war  as  a  privateers- 
man.  Soon  afterward  he  was  again  taken  into  the 
regular  navy  and  performed  valuable  services.1 

1  See  Maclay's  History  of  the  Navy,  vol.  i,  pp.  583-585, 



IF  anything  can  excuse  privateering  it  is  the  fact 
that  so  many  of  our  private  armed  craft  attacked 
and  captured  British  war  ships.    It  can  not  be  de- 
nied that  the  mainspring  of  privateering  in  all  coun- 
tries pretending  to  maritime  power  was  the  chance 
of  plunder.    This  was  the  object  for  which  traders 
were  fitted,  armed,  and  sent  out  at  private  expense, 
and  it  was  the  booty  the  owners  of  the  vessel  ex- 
pected to  get  from  the  enemy's  commerce  that  was 
to  reimburse  them  for  this  expenditure  and  risk. 
This  license  to  "  seize,  burn,  or  destroy  "  ships  and 
goods  belonging  to  the  enemy  too  frequently  degen- 
erated to  a  degree  where  it  was  hard  to  distinguish 
between  privateering  and  piracy,  and  in  this  way 
the  former  was  brought  into  general  disrepute. 

Privateering  at  the  hands  of  American  seamen 
however,  can  not  be  said  to  have  been  thus  degraded' 
On  the  contrary,  the  rules  of  war  and  the  laws  of 
humanity  were  quite  as  strictly  observed  by  our  pri- 
vateersmen  as  by  their  brethren  in  the  navy  Fre- 
quently the  sordid  love  of  gain  was  gallantly  thrust 
aside  by  these  amateur  man-of-warsmen,  and  the 
enemy's  war  ships  were  attacked  when  it  was  only 
too  well  known  that  nothing  but  hard  blows  and 
empty  holds  would  be  found;  or,  worse  yet,  in  case  of 
capture,  brutal  impressment  or  speedy  death  at  the 
yardarm  if  the  British  commander  should  take  it  into 
his  head  that  some  of  the  captured  Americans  were 


deserters  from  the  Eoyal  Navy.  Notwithstanding 
all  these  inducements  to  steer  clear  of  the  regular 
war  ships  of  the  enemy,  there  were  several  instances 
in  which  Yankee  privateersmen  gave  battle  to  such 
craft,  and  by  that  act  alone  raised  the  American  pri- 
vateer to  a  high  and  respectable  position  in  the  mari- 
time forces  of  the  world.  One  of  the  most  notable 
actions  of  this  kind  in  the  War  of  1812  was  that 
between  the  American  privateer  Decatur,  Captain 
Dominique  Diron,  of  Charleston,  and  the  English 
cruiser  Dominica,  Lieutenant  George  Wilmot  Bar- 

Three  of  the  American  privateers  in  this  war 
bore  the  name  Decatur.  One  was  a  schooner  of  four 
guns  and  twenty-three  men,  under  Captain  S.  N. 
Lane,  from  Maine.  This  craft  was  pierced  for  six- 
teen guns,  and  the  fact  that  she  mounted  only  four 
indicates  that  her  owners  were  unable  to  secure  a 
larger  number,  and  sent  her  to  sea  in  the  hope  of  fill- 
ing out  her  armament  from  prizes,  as  so  many  of  our 
private  armed  craft  had  done.  This  Decatur  was  not 
very  successful,  and  on  September  3,  1814,  while 
under  the  command  of  Captain  E.  Brown,  she  was 
captured  by  an  English  squadron,  but  subsequently 
was  lost  at  sea. 

Another  Decatur,  a  fine  brig  carrying  fourteen 
guns  and  one  hundred  and  sixty  men,  under  Captain 
Nichols,  of  Newburyport,  was  one  of  the  most  suc- 
cessful privateers  from  the  Eastern  ports.  She  got 
to  sea  at  the  beginning  of  hostilities  and  captured 
four  ships,  six  brigs,  two  barks,  and  two  schooners. 
One  of  these  prizes  was  destroyed  at  sea  and  three 
were  converted  into  cartels.  This  was  the  privateer 
that  on  the  night  of  August  18,  1812,  was  chased 
two  hours  by  the  United  States  44-gun  frigate  Con- 
stitution, Captain  Isaac  Hull.  Mistaking  the  frigate 
for  the  enemy,  Captain  Nichols  threw  overboard 
twelve  of  his  fourteen  guns;  but  even  this  extreme 
measure  did  not  avail,  for  the  Constitution  succeeded 

310  DECATUR-DOMINICA  FIGHT.  1812-1813. 

in  getting  alongside,  and  on  sending  a  boat  aboard 
discovered  the  privateer's  true  character.  Only  the 
day  before  the  Decatnr  had  been  chased  by  the  Brit- 
ish frigate  Guerridre,  for  which  Captain  Hull  was 
searching,  but  had  easily  outsailed  her.  Here  we 
have  an  excellent  illustration  of  the  superior  quali- 
ties of  the  American  craft  over  that  of  the  English, 
for  the  Decatur  had  eluded  the  Gnerriere,  but  had 
been  unable  to  get  away  from  the  Constitution,  even 
by  the  sacrifice  of  most  of  her  guns. 

It  was  in  reference  to  this  incident  that  Rowan 
Stevens,  son  of  the  late  Rear-Admiral  Thomas 
Holdup  Stevens,  wrote: 

41  And  on  through  the  summer  seas  we  bore, 

Until  off  stern  Cape  Clear 
Our  ship  fell  in  with  a  sloop-o'-war, 

A  Yankee  privateer. 
We  hailed  for  news,  and  the  sloop  hove  to, 

And  off  her  skipper  came, 
And  boarded  us  in  a  leaky  yawl 

With  his  wrathful  cheek  aflame ; 
For  '  Down  to  the  south 'ard  he'd  been  chased 

By  a  powerful  English  ship 
That  was  just  too  slow  for  his  flying  heels, 

And  just  too  big  to  whip.' 
We  sent  him  back  with  a  cheerful  heart, 

And  down  to  the  south  we  swept, 
And  a  sharp  lookout  o'er  the  vacant  sea 

Alow  and  aloft  we  kept." 

The  Constitution  fell  in  with  the  Guerridre  on  the 
following  day,  and  the  result  is  well  known.  The 
Decatur  returned  to  port,  and,  after  renewing  her 
armament,  she  made  a  cruise  in  the  West  Indies. 
On  January  16,  1813,  while  off  Barbadoes,  she  was 
captured  by  the  British  frigate  Surprise.  Before  the 
war  this  Decatur  had  been  the  merchantman  Alert. 
Soon  after  hostilities  broke  out  the  Alert  was  cap- 
tured by  the  British  frigate  Vestal,  but  Mchols,  who 
commanded  the  Alert,  succeeded  in  recapturing  his 

1806-1818.         CAPTAIN  DIRON'S  FINE  RECORD.  3H 

ship  and  got  her  into  port.  When  seized  by  the  Sur- 
prise, Nichols  was  taken  to  Barbadoes,  where  he  was 
recognized  by  the  commander  of  the  Vestal,  who 
took  this  opportunity  to  "  get  even  "  with  the  pri- 
vateersman  who  had  the  "  presumption  to  recapture 
a  prize  of  His  Britannic  Majesty's  frigate  "  by  con- 
fining Nichols  in  a  room  not  larger  than  five  by  seven 
feet,  where  he  was  cruelly  treated  and  then  sent  to 

The  third  and  last  Decatur  in  this  war  hailed  from 
Charleston,  South  Carolina.  She  was  a  schooner 
carrying  six  12-pounders  and  one  long  18-pounder  on 
a  pivot  amidships,  and  on  this,  her  most  eventful 
cruise,  she  carried  a  complement  of  one  hundred  and 
three  men  and  boys.  Captain  Diron,  her  commander, 
was  one  of  the  most  celebrated  privateersmen  in 
his  day.  In  September,  1806,  while  in  command  of 
the  French  privateer  Superbe,  he  made  a  heroic  de- 
fense against  the  British  cruisers  Drake,  Captain 
Kobert  Nicolas,  and  the  Pitt,  Lieutenant  Michael 
Fitton.  For  three  nights  and  two  days  Diron  main- 
tained a  plucky  fight  against  these  vessels,  and  final- 
ly succeeded  in  running  his  ship  ashore  and  escaping 
with  his  men.  At  the  outbreak  of  the  War  of  1812 
he  was  placed  in  command  of  the  privateer  Decatur. 
Among  his  first  prizes  was  the  ship  Nelson,  which 
was  described  as  "  a  monstrous  three-decked  vessel 
of  six  hundred  tons,  with  an  immensely  valuable 
cargo."  She  was  bound  for  Jamaica,  and  was  sent 
into  New  Orleans,  March,  1813.  The  Decatur  also 
took  the  brig  Thomas,  of  two  guns,  which  was  re- 
leased and  sent  into  Halifax  with  the  prisoners. 

The  Dominica  was  a  three-masted  schooner  carry- 
ing twelve  short  12-pounders,  two  long  6-pounders, 
one  brass  4-pounder,  and  a  short  32-pounder  on  a 
pivot.  She  was  manned  by  eighty-eight  men  and 
boys.  On  September  4,  1812,  this  cruiser  captured 
the  8-gun  armed  schooner  Providence,  Captain  N. 
Hopkins,  of  Providence.  The  Providence  is  not 


credited  with  any  prizes,  being  taken  shortly  after 
leaving  port.  In  the  chase  of  ten  hours,  Captain 
Hopkins  had  thrown  overboard  all  his  guns  on  the 
leeward  side.  At  the  time  the  Dominica  fell  in  with 
the  Decatur  she  had  under  her  convoy  the  Govern- 
ment packet  ship  Princess  Charlotte,  from  St.  Thomas 
for  England,  and  the  merchantman  London  Trader, 
from  Surinam  homeward  bound.  The  Princess  Char- 
lotte carried  a  formidable  armament,  and  the  London 
Trader  also  was  well  armed. 

The  Decatur  left  port  in  the  summer  of  1813  on  a 
general  cruise  against  British  commerce,  and  early 
in  August  she  was  in  the  track  of  British  West  India 
traders  homeward  bound.  Early  on  the  morning 
of  August  5th,  when  in  latitude  23°  4'  north,  longi- 
tude 67°  0'  west,  or  a  little  to  the  south  of  the  Ber- 
mudas, the  Decatur  was  heading  northward  under 
easy  sail,  hoping  for  some  prize  to  appear.  About 
10.30  A.  M.  the  man  at  the  masthead  reported  a  sail 
bearing  away  to  the  south,  and  shortly  afterward 
another,  steering  in  the  same  direction,  was  sighted. 
Captain  Diron  promptly  tacked  southward,  with  a 
view  of  getting  the  weather  gauge  of  the  strangers, 
so  that,  should  they  prove  to  be  British  cruisers,  he 
would  have  the  advantage  in  a  chase.  This  precau- 
tion was  rendered  doubly  necessary,  as  the  fact  of 
two  vessels  cruising  in  company  rendered  it  prob- 
able that  they  were  the  enemy's  sloops  of  war,  for 
so  astonishing  had  been  the  victories  of  the  little 
American  navy,  and  so  appalled  had  the  British  pub- 
lic become  at  the  results  of  the  war  as  far  as  it  per- 
tained to  their  navy,  that  their  Lordships  of  the  Ad- 
miralty had  directed  British  38-gun  frigates  to  avoid 
the  dreaded  American  44-gun  ships,  while  their 
sloops  of  war  were  to  sail  in  pairs. 

For  this  reason  Captain  Diron  approached  the 
strangers  with  caution,  knowing  that  there  was  a 
strong  probability  of  their  being  a  couple  of  Brit- 
ish sloops  of  war.  The  danger  of  approaching  a 

1813.  ATTEMPTS  TO  BOARD.  313 

stronger  force,  however,  did  not  prevent  the  Ameri- 
cans from  coming  to  closer  range,  and  at  11  A.  M. 
it  was  seen  that  the  sails  were  a  ship  and  a  schooner, 
which,  on  making  out  the  sails  of  the  Decatur,  had 
changed  their  course  to  the  north  so  as  to  meet  her. 
The  three  vessels  slowly  reduced  the  distance  be- 
tween them,  and  at  12.30  P.  M.  the  Decatur,  having  se- 
cured a  position  a  little  to  windward,  and  being 
almost  within  gunshot,  wore  round  and  ran  a  little 
to  leeward,  upon  which  the  schooner  showed  English 
colors.  Captain  Diron  was  now  satisfied  that  he 
had  an  English  war  schooner  to  deal  with  and  that 
the  ship  was  under  its  protection.  Half  an  hour 
later  he  wore  again,  still  keeping  the  weather  gauge, 
and  about  1.30  P.  M.  the  stranger  fired  a  shot,  which 
fell  short. 

Knowing  that  the  British  commander  had  a 
heavier  armament  than  the  privateer,  but  believing 
that  he  had  the  greater  number  of  men  to  man  his 
ship,  Captain  Diron  determined  to  have  the  fight  at 
the  closest  quarters,  and  to  carry  the  Englishman  by 
boarding.  Accordingly  he  cleared  for  action,  sent 
his  men  to  quarters,  loaded  all  his  guns,  and  hoisted 
American  colors.  To  make  sure  that  no  man  could 
leave  his  post  and  run  below,  Captain  Diron,  after 
having  got  all  his  ammunition,  water,  sand,  etc.,  on 
deck,  ready  for  instant  use,  ordered  all  the  hatches 
closed.  It  was  the  plan  of  the  Americans  to  get  as 
close  to  the  enemy  as  possible  before  firing  a  shot, 
deliver  their  entire  broadside  and  a  volley  from  their 
small  arms,  and  then  to  board  in  the  smoke.  In 
order  to  secure  the  British  ship  alongside  grappling 
irons  were  in  readiness  to  be  thrown  aboard. 

Having  made  all  his  arrangements  for  the  battle, 
Captain  Diron  about  2  P.  M.  wore  ship,  with  a  view 
of  passing  under  the  stern  of  the  enemy  and  giving 
a  raking  fire,  but  as  the  schooners  neared  each  other 
the  Englishman  luffed  and  gave  his  broadside,  most 
of  the  shot  passing  over  the  American.  This  is  only 


another  indication  of  the  overconfidence  of  the  Brit- 
ish naval  officer  in  this  war.  So  confident  was  Lieu- 
tenant Barrett^  of  taking  the  American  that  he 
ordered  his  gunners  to  aim  at  the  Yankee's  rigging 
so  as  to  prevent  her  from  running.  But  if  this  was 
the  Englishman's  motive  in  firing  so  high  he  soon 
had  cause  to  repent  it,  for  at  2.15  P.  M.  the  Ameri- 
cans began  the  fire  of  their  long  torn,  and  as  it  was 
aimed  with  coolness  and  deliberation,  within  half- 
gunshot  distance,  the  effect  in  so  small  a  vessel  was 
serious,  disabling  several  of  the  Englishman's  guns, 
besides  injuring  many  men.  At  all  events,  it  speed- 
ily changed  the  English  commander's  tactics,  and 
the  few  guns  that  remained  mounted  on  that  side 
were  now  trained  on  the  privateer's  hull. 

The  destructive  work  done  by  the  American's 
long  torn,  however,  had  given  Captain  Diron  the 
advantage,  and,  so  far  from  evincing  a  disposition 
to  run  away,  he  soon  discovered  that  that  was  the 
purpose  of  his  opponent,  and  in  order  to  prevent  it 
he  filled  away  so  as  to  bring  his  bowsprit  over  the 
enemy's  stern.  The  English  endeavored  to  frustrate 
this  by  directing  a  whole  broadside  at  the  advancing 
Yankee,  but  they  were  too  excited,  or  their  gun- 
nery was  so  poor  that  the  shot  did  little  or  no  execu- 
tion. Had  they  taken  good  aim  the  effect  of  those 
guns  at  such  a  short  distance  would  have  been  ter- 
rific. The  Decatur  could  respond  to  this  fire  only 
with  her  long  torn,  but  as  that  was  discharged  with 
the  usual  skill  and  coolness  of  American  gunners 
it  effected  far  greater  damage  than  the  English- 
man's broadside.  It  was  now  3  P.  M.,  and  the  vessels 
were  so  near  to  each  other  that  the  voices  of  the 
officers  aboard  the  British  ship,  urging  their  men 
to  renewed  energy,  could  be  distinctly  heard.  Cap- 
tain Diron  then  order  his  boarders  to  leave  their 
guns  and  assemble  forward,  arm  themselves  with 
muskets  and  cutlasses,  and  be  in  readiness  to  spring 
upon  the  enemy's  decks. 

1813.         STRUGGLE  ON  THE  ENGLISHMAN'S  DECK          315 

The  British  at  this  stage  of  the  battle  evidently 
realized  the  seriousness  of  the  fight,  for  their  officers 
could  be  heard  warning  their  gunners  to  take  better 
aim,  and  to  fire  into  the  Yankee's  hull  instead  of  his 
rigging,  as  heretofore.  The  result  of  this  admo- 
nition was  seen  in  the  effect  of  the  next  broadside 
which  the  enemy  delivered.  The  shots  hulled  the 
Decatur,  killed  two  of  her  crew,  and  materially  in- 
jured her  sails  and  rigging.  This  broadside  did 
more  damage  than  all  the  others.  It  also  pre- 
vented Captain  Diron  from  carrying  out  his  plan  of 
boarding;  for,  some  of  his  ropes  being  severed,  his 
sails  became  temporarily  unmanageable.  Eepairs 
were  quickly  made,  and,  though  foiled  in  their  at- 
tempt to  board,  the  Americans  renewed  the  action 
with  their  long  torn  and  12-pounder,  believing  that 
an  opportunity  would  yet  be  offered  them  to  settle 
the  fight  on  the  Englishman's  deck. 

After  delivering  their  first  effective  fire,  the  Eng- 
lishmen filled  away  so  as  to  prevent  the  Americans 
from  boarding,  while  Captain  Diron  doggedly  fol- 
lowed close  under  their  stern,  determined  to  board  at 
any  cost.  In  this  way,  bow  to  stern,  the  two  craft 
ran  several  minutes,  neither  side  being  able  to  main- 
tain a  very  effective  fire.  The  Americans  now  made 
another  attempt  to  board,  but  it  was  frustrated  in 
the  same  manner  as  the  first. 

But  the  last  move  made  by  the  British  schooner, 
in  her  endeavor  to  avoid  boarding,  gave  the  Decatur 
the  advantage  in  sailing,  and,  persisting  in  following 
close  in  the  wake  of  his  enemy,  Captain  Diron  finally 
had  the  satisfaction  of  seeing  his  craft  gradually 
overhaul  the  Englishman.  Again  he  called  for  his 
boarders,  and  at  3.30  P.  M.  the  Decatur  ran  her  bow- 
sprit over  the  enemy's  stern,  her  jib  boom  piercing 
the  Englishman's  mainsail.  This  was  the  signal 
for  the  Americans  to  board,  an<l  while  some  of  them 
poured  in  a  heavy  fire  of  musketry  others,  led  by 
Vincent  Safitt,  the  prize  master,  and  Thomas  Was- 

316  DECATUR-DOMnaCA  FIGHT.  1813. 

born,  the  quartermaster,  clambered  along  the  bow- 
sprit and  sprang  to  the  Englishman's  deck.  Then 
began  a  terrible  scene  of  slaughter  and  bloodshed. 
The  two  crews  were  soon  intermingled  in  an  inex- 
tricable mass,  which  the  narrow  decks  of  the 
schooner  kept  compact  as  long  as  the  struggle 
lasted.  Nearly  two  hundred  men  and  boys  armed 
with  pistols,  cutlasses,  and  muskets  were  now  shout- 
ing, yelling,  and  cheering,  and  slashing  at  each  other 
in  a  space  not  more  than  twenty  feet  wide  and  eighty 
feet  long. 

One  of  the  first  to  fall  on  the  side  of  the  enemy 
was  their  gallant  commander,  Lieutenant  Barrett^, 
a  young  man  not  more  than  twenty-five  years  old, 
who  had  conducted  himself  from  the  beginning  of 
the  fight  with  conspicuous  gallantry,  notwithstand- 
ing his  contempt  for  the  Yankee  sailor.    He  had  re- 
ceived a  bad  wound  early  in  the  action,  two  musket 
.balls  having  passed  through  the  left  arm.    But  this 
did  not  prevent  him  from  remaining  at  his  post.    He 
was  urged  several  times  by  his  surviving  officers  to 
surrender,  but  refused  to  do  so,  avowing  his  deter- 
mination not  to  survive  the  loss  of  his  vessel.    A 
few  moments  before  he  received  his  fatal  wound  he 
severely  injured  one  of  the  American  officers  with  a 
saber  cut.    The  sailing  master,  Isaac  Backer,  and 
the  purser,  David  Brown,  of  the  Dominica,  also  were 
killed,  while  Midshipmen  William  Archer  and  Wil- 
liam Parry  were  wounded.    In  fact,  the  only  English 
officers  not  killed  or  wounded  were  the  surgeon  and 
one  midshipman.    It  was  not  until  eighteen  of  the 
Dominica's  crew  were  killed  and  forty-two  wounded 
that  the  few  survivors  were  induced  to  surrender. 
A  total  of  sixty  killed  or  wounded  in  a  crew  of 
eighty-eight  fully  attests  the  desperate  nature  of 
the  struggle  and  the  gallantry  of  the  men  against 
whom  the  Americans  fought.     Even  with  this  ap- 
palling percentage  of  killed  and  wounded  the  Eng- 
lishmen can  not  be  reported  as  having  surrendered 




for  the  Americans  hauled  down  the  colors  with  their 
own  hands.  On  the  part  of  the  privateer  five  men 
were  killed  and  fifteen  wounded,  which  disparity  of 
casualties  is  to  be  ascribed  solely  to  the  superior  sea- 
manship of  Captain  Diron  and  the  better  marksman- 
ship of  the  Americans,  both  with  the  cannon  and 
small  arms. 

That  this  was  in  truth  a  battle  royal  will  be 
seen  by  comparing  it  with  the  regular  naval  actions 
between  sloops  of  war  in  the  conflict: 

Comparative  Casualties. 



















































































































While  the  battle  between  the  American  priva- 
teer and  the  British  cruiser  was  raging  the  com- 
mander of  the  Princess  Charlotte  did  not  deem  it  his 
place  to  take  part  in  the  fight,  and  for  over  an  hour 
remained  a  passive  spectator.  But  as  soon  as  it  was 
seen  that  the  American  was  the  victor  the  Princess 
Charlotte  tacked  to  the  south,  and  by  sunset  had  dis- 


appeared.  She  had  left  St.  Thomas  for  England,  and 
was  to  be  under  the  escort  of  the  Dominica  until  well 
clear  of  the  American  coast,  when  she  had  intended 
to  proceed  on  her  voyage  alone.  Arriving  in  Eng- 
land, the  commander  of  the  packet  reported  that  he 
had  left  "  the  Dominica  in  hot  pursuit  of  a  Yankee 

As  soon  as  victory  was  assured  Captain  Diron 
employed  all  the  men  he  could  in  repairing  damages; 
for  capturing  a  ship  and  taking  her  safely  into  port 
when  the  coasts  of  the  United  States  were  swarming 
with  British  cruisers  were  two  very  distinct  achieve- 
ments. Having  given  the  dead  a  sailor's  burial,  and 
having  attended  the  wounded  (the  English  receiv- 
ing quite  as  much  attention  as  the  Americans), 
Captain  Diron  headed  for  Charleston.  The  Decatur 
and  the  Dominica  made  land  near  Georgetown,  and 
running  down  the  coast  crossed  Charleston  bar 
safely  August  20th,  the  Dominica  appearing  under 
the  colors  she  had  taken  from  the  Providence.  For 
several  days  before  two  English  brigs  of  war  had 
been  hovering  off  the  port;  but,  fortunately,  on 
the  day  Captain  Diron  approached  they  had  been 
drawn  off  in  chase  to  the  south. 

Arriving  in  port,  Captain  Diron  heard  that  the 
British  merchant  ship  London  Trader  had  arrived 
safely  at  Savannah.  This  ship  had  been  sailing  in 
company  with  the  Dominica  and  the  Princess  Char- 
lotte when  they  fell  in  with  the  bold  Decatur.  The 
London  Trader  made  her  escape  while  the  American 
privateer  was  engaged  in  fighting  the  Dominica,  but 
on  the  following  day  Captain  Diron  fell  in  with  and 
captured  her.  She  had  on  board  a  cargo  consisting 
of  two  hundred  and  nine  hogsheads  of  sugar,  one 
hundred  and  forty  tierces  of  molasses,  fifty-five 
hogsheads  of  rum,  seven  hundred  bags  of  coffee,  and 
sixty  bales  of  cotton. 

Captain  George  Coggeshall,  who  commanded  sev- 
eral privateers  in  this  war,  happened  to  be  in 

1813-1814       KINDNESS  TO  ENGLISH  PRISONERS.  319 

Charleston  about  the  time  the  Decatur  entered  that 
port  with  her  prize,  and,  in  conversation  with  the 
captors  and  prisoners,  learned  many  details  of  this 
action.  He  said:  "The  surviving  officers  of  the 
Dominica  attributed  the  loss  of  their  vessel  to  the 
superior  skill  of  the  Decatur's  crew  in  the  use  of 
musketry  and  to  Captain  Diron's  adroit  manner  in 
maneuvering  his  schooner  during  the  action,  which 
rendered  the  Englishman's  carriage  guns  in  a  man- 
ner almost  useless.  It  was  acknowledged  by  the 
English  prisoners  that  during  their  captivity  they 
were  treated  with  great  kindness  and  humanity  by 
Captain  Diron,  his  officers  and  crew,  and  that  the 
utmost  care  and  attention  were  paid  to  the  sick  and 
wounded.  The  crew  of  the  captured  vessel  were 
all  fine-looking  young  men.  There  were  among  them 
eight  or  ten  boys.  To  see  this  youthful  crew  on  their 
arrival  at  Charleston  in  their  mangled  condition  was 
enough  to  freeze  the  blood  with  horror  of  any  per- 
son not  accustomed  to  such  sanguinary  scenes. 
Among  the  crew  was  a  small  boy,  not  eleven  years 
old,  who  was  twice  wounded  while  contending  for 
victory  on  the  deck  of  the  Dominica.  I  saw  daily  one 
of  the  wounded  English  midshipmen  with  his  arm 
in  a  sling,  who  had  the  privilege  of  walking  about 
the  city  on  his  parole  of  honor." 

The  Dominica  subsequently  was  fitted  out  as  a 
privateer,  carrying  four  guns  and  thirty-six  men,  but 
on  May  23,  1814,  she  was  captured  by  the  British 
ship  of  the  line  Majestic.  In  November,  1813,  the 
Decatur  got  to  sea  again,  but  after  a  cruise  of  eighty 
days  she  returned  to  Charleston  without  having 
taken  one  vessel.  She  made  another  venture  in  this 
war,  but  was  captured  June  5,  1814,  by  the  British 
frigate  PUn  off  Mona  Passage,  after  a  chase  of 
eleven  hours. 



IN  the  War  of  1812  the  Southern  ports,  not  in- 
cluding Baltimore,  sent  out  thirty-six  privateers, 
several  of  which  were  eminently  successful.  The  bril- 
liant achievement  of  the  Decatur,  in  capturing  a  Brit- 
ish cruiser,  has  been  narrated  in  the  preceding  chap- 
ter.  These  commerce  destroyers  of  the  South  sailed 
principally  from  Norfolk,  Wilmington  (North  Caro- 
lina), Charleston,  Savannah,  and  New  Orleans.    Of 
the  six  hailing  from  Norfolk  the  1-gun  schooner 
Chance,  Captain  W.  Derick,  a  vessel  of  eighty-four 
tons;  the  1-gun  schooner  Four  Friends,  Captain  T. 
Rooke,  of  forty-six  tons;  the  2-gun  schooner  Franklin, 
Captain  J.  Glenn,  of  twenty-three  tons;  and  the  3-gun 
schooner  George  Washington,  Captain  S.  Sisson,  seem 
to  have  accomplished  little  or  nothing.    The  Dash, 
as  we  have  seen,1  distinguished  herself  by  taking  the 
first  prize  of  the  war,  the   British   Government 
schooner  Whiting,  Lieutenant  Maxcey. 

The  Roger,  a  fine  schooner  of  ten  guns,  com- 
manded by  Captain  E.  Quarles,  sailed  from  Norfolk 
late  in  1813  or  early  in  1814  with  a  complement  of 
one  hundred  and  twenty  men.  She  made  her  first 
prize  in  January,  the  schooner  Henry,  laden  with 
fish,  which  was  sent  into  Charleston.  About  the 
same  time  the  Roger  captured  the  schooner  Maria 
and  as  she  was  of  little  value  she  was  burned.  In' 

1  See  p. 

181&-1814.    NORFOLK  AND  WILMINGTON  PRIVATEERS.     321 

May,  1814,  the  Roger  took  the  valuable  ship  Fortnna, 
sailing  under  the  Russian  flag  with  English  property 
aboard.  She  was  from  Havana  for  Eiga  with  an 
assorted  cargo,  which  was  sent  into  Beaufort,  South 
Carolina.  In  this  cruise  the  Roger  made  a  prize  of  a 
brig  laden  with  rum  and  sugar  from  Jamaica  for 
England,  which  was  sent  into  port.  In  the  following 
August  this  privateer  seized  the  schooner  Contract, 
with  a  cargo  of  salt,  which  was  sent  into  North  Caro- 
lina, and  in  December  of  the  same  year  she  captured 
the  ship  UAimable,  from  Havana  for  England,  under 
Spanish  colors  but  with  British  property  aboard. 
The  seventh  and  last  prize  of  this  vessel  was  the 
packet  Windsor  Castle,  from  Falmouth  for  Halifax. 
She  was  armed  with  two  long  9-pounders  and  eight 
short  guns,  and  had  on  board  nine  passengers  and  a 
crew  of  thirty-two  men.  She  was  sent  into  Norfolk.1 

Wilmington,  in  the  course  of  the  war,  sent  out 
three  privateers.  The  5-gun  schooner  Hawk,  Captain 
W.  H.  Trippe,  got  to  sea  in  March,  1814,  with  a  com- 
plement of  sixty-eight  men.  She  made  only  one 
prize,  the  schooner  Plicebe,  laden  with  rum  and  mo- 
lasses, which  was  sent  into  the  privateer's  home 
port.  On  April  26,  1814,  the  Hawk  was  captured  by 
the  British  frigate  Pique  while  off  Silver  Keys.  An- 
other 5-gun  schooner  from  Wilmington,  the  Lovely 
Lass,  Captain  J.  Smith,  of  the  United  States  navy, 
got  to  sea  in  1813  with  a  complement  of  sixty  men, 
and  in  March  sent  into  New  Orleans  a  schooner 
valued  at  ten  thousand  dollars.  On  the  following 
May  4th  this  privateer  fell  in  with  the  British 
cruiser  Circee,  and  after  a  hard  chase  of  nineteen 
hours,  in  which  the  privateer  threw  overboard  four 
of  her  guns,  she  was  taken.  On  this  cruise  the 
Lovely  Lass  had  been  out  forty  days. 

The  6-gun  schooner  Snap  Dragon,  Captain  E.  Pas- 
teur (also  commanded  by  Captains  0.  Burns  and  N. 

1  For  action  between  the  Roger  and  the  Highflyer  see  p.  458. 

322  SOUTHERN  PRIVATEERS.  1813-1814. 

Graham),  was  far  more  successful  than  either  of 
the  above,  taking  two  barks,  five  brigs,  and  three 
schooners.  In  August  and  September,  1813,  she  cap- 
tured the  brigs  Good  Intent,  Venus,  and  Happy,  the 
bark  Reprisal,  and  the  schooner  Elisabeth.  All  of 
these  vessels  were  destroyed  at  sea  after  the  more 
valuable  portions  of  their  cargoes  had  been  taken 
out,  except  one  which  was  given  up  to  the  prisoners. 
The  Snap  Dragon  also  took  the  brig  Ann,  with  a  cargo 
of  drygoods  worth  half  a  million  dollars.  These 
goods  had  been  purchased  by  American  merchants 
with  the  expectation  of  smuggling  them  into  the 
United  States.  In  the  following  September  the  Snap 
Dragon  captured  the  brig  Jane,  which,  being  in  bal- 
last, was  given  up  to  the  prisoners.  In  April,  1814, 
this  privateer  seized  two  vessels — the  Linnet,  laden 
with  fish  and  oil,  and  another,  a  schooner  with  a 
cargo  of  mahogany,  which  was  sent  into  Beaufort. 

New  Orleans  sent  out  six  privateers,  of  which  the 
lugger  Cora,  of  four  guns  and  thirty  men,  under  Cap- 
tain J.  George;  the  3-gun  schooner  Hornet,  Captain 
F.  Thomas;  the  boat  John,  Captain  J.  Coates;  and  the 
1-gun  schooner  Victory,  Captain  J.  Degres,  accom- 
plished little  or  nothing.  The  4-gun  schooner  Spy, 
Captain  E.  Beluche,  having  one  hundred  men  aboard, 
took  the  valuable  ship  Jane,  laden  with  mahogany, 
which  was  sent  into  New  Orleans.  The  3-gun 
schooner  Two  Friends,  Captain  H.  Ferlat,  seized  the 
sloop  Venus,  of  Jamaica,  and  destroyed  her  at  sea. 

Five  armed  craft  were  sent  out  from  Savannah, 
of  which  the  3-gun  schooner  Atas,  Captain  T.  M. 
Newell;  the  1-gun  felucca  Bee,  Captain  P.  Masabeau; 
the  3-gun  schooner  Elizabeth,  Captain  R  Cleary;  and 
the  4-gun  schooner  Maria,  Captain  J.  Beecher,  made 
no  captures  of  importance.  The  1-gun  schooner 
Nonpareil,  Captain  H.  Martin,  seized  a  schooner,  but 
the  Nonpareil  herself  was  captured  by  the  Dfoouverte 
on  July  12, 1812. 

Charleston  put  into  commission  thirteen  armed 

1813.  A  HAPPY  RECAPTURE.  323 

craft,  besides  those  already  mentioned.  Several 
of  them  met  with  little  if  any  success,  among  that* 
class  being  the  1-gun  schooner  Advocate,  Captain  A. 
Dougle;  the  2-gun  sloop  Blockade,  Captain  J.  Graves; 
the  schooner  Firefly,  Captain  W.  Clewley;  the  1-gun 
sloop  Minerva,  Captain  J.  Peters;  and  the  4-gun 
schooner  Revenge.  The  Eagle,  a  schooner  carrying 
one  gun  and  forty-five  men,  under  Captain  P.  Lafete, 
captured  four  schooners,  one  of  which  was  armed 
with  three  guns  and  was  manned  by  twenty-four 

The  3-gun  schooner  Hazard,  Captain  P.  Le  Char- 
trier,  on  February  22,  1813,  had  an  action  with  the 
British  privateer  Caledonia,  the  result  of  which  was 
peculiarly  gratifying  to  the  Americans.  It  seems 
that  two  days  before  this  the  Hazard  captured  the 
valuable  British  ship  Albion,  of  twelve  guns  and 
twenty-five  men.  This  merchantman  was  from 
Demerara  for  London,  and  had  on  board  four  hun- 
dred hogsheads  of  sugar,  sixty-nine  puncheons  of 
rum,  ten  bales  of  cotton,  and  three  hundred  bags 
and  thirty-six  casks  of  coffee.  Placing  a  prize  crew 
aboard,  with  orders  to  make  for  port,  Captain  Le 
Chartrier  resumed  his  cruise,  supposing  that  his  prize 
was  making  good  headway  toward  the  United  States. 
On  February  22d  he  fell  in  with  the  Caledonia,  hav- 
ing the  recaptured  Albion  in  her  company.  The  two 
privateers  immediately  began  an  action  which  re- 
sulted in  the  Englishman  making  sail  in  flight  and 
the  second  capture  of  the  Albion  by  the  Hazard.  "  If 
we  had  had  half  an  hour  more  of  daylight,"  wrote 
Le  Chartrier,  "  I  should  have  brought  in  this  priva- 
teer." In  this  affair  the  Hazard  had  seven  men  killed 
and  the  same  number  wounded.  The  Caledonia  is 
credited  with  six  guns  and  fifty  men  to  the  Hazard's 
three  guns  and  twenty-eight  men.  This  was  the 
only  capture  made  by  the  Hazard  in  this  war.  The 
Lady  Madison,  a  schooner  of  one  gun  and  forty-five 
men,  under  Captain  A.  Garrison,  took  two  prizes  in 

324  SOUTHERN  PRIVATEERS.  1812-1813. 

the  course  of  the  war,  one  of  which  was  given  up 
to  prisoners. 

The  Lovely  Cornelia,  Captain  P.  Sicard,  in  Octo- 
ber, 1813,  took  sixteen  prizes  off  Jamaica,  all  of 
which  were  destroyed  at  sea,  except  one,  which  was 
sent  to  the  United  States,  but  was  wrecked  on  the 
coast  of  Florida.  The  1-gun  schooner  Mary  Ann, 
also  commanded  by  Captain  Sicard  and  afterward 
by  Captain  J.  P.  Chazel,  took  one  ship,  two  brigs, 
and  two  schooners.  All  of  these  prizes  were  armed, 
one  with  twelve  and  another  with  ten  guns,  each 
of  which  carried  seventeen  men.  On  May  5,  1813, 
the  Mary  Ann  was  captured  by  the  18-gun  sloop  of 
war  Sapphire,  one  of  the  Americans  being  killed  in 
the  chase.  The  1-gun  Poor  Sailor,  Captain  P.  Lachlin, 
and  the  1-gun  schooner  Rapid,  Captains  J.  Princhett, 
W.  Saunderson,  etc.,  had  moderate  success.  The 
former,  though  of  only  forty-four  tons,  captured  a 
ship  laden  with  rum.  The  Poor  Sailor  was  lost  at 
sea  in  1813.  The  Rapid  seized  a  ship,  a  brig,  and 
two  schooners.  The  ship  was  the  Experience,  with  a 
cargo  worth  a  quarter  of  a  million  dollars.  One  of 
the  schooners  was  the  Searcher,  of  one  gun  and 
twenty  men,  which  was  burned.  One  of  the  brigs 
was  ransomed. 

By  far  the  most  successful  of  the  privateers  that 
sailed  for  Charleston  in  this  war  was  the  6-gun 
schooner  Saucy  Jack,  Captain  J.  P.  Chazel.  This  ves- 
sel was  painted  black,  with  a  white  streak  along  her 
side  to  distinguish  her.  While  lying  in  Charleston 
harbor,  August,  1812,  preparatory  to  getting  to  sea, 
some  person  or  persons  spiked  her  guns.  A  reward 
of  three  hundred  dollars  was  offered  for  the  appre- 
hension of  the  perpetrators  of  the  act,  but  without 
avail.  This  craft  took  in  all  six  ships,  six  brigs, 
nine  schooners,  and  two  sloops.  In  September  she 
arrived  in  the  St.  Mary's  from  her  third  cruise,  in 
which  she  had  captured  the  Tltrce  Sisters  and  the 
ship  Eliza,  of  ten  guns,  laden  with  flour  and  beef. 

1813-1814.    GALLANT  DEFENSE  OF  THE  PELHAM.  325 

On  August  17th  she  took  the  ship  Laura,  laden  with 
coffee,  and  the  Three  Brothers,  each  mounting  ten 
guns.  Shortly  after  the  Laura  had  been  taken  pos- 
session of  by  the  American  prize  crew  she  was 
chased  by  the  British  sloop  of  war  Peruvian.  To 
prevent  their  prize  from  falling  into  the  hands  of 
the  enemy  the  American  fired  the  Laura  and  took 
to  their  boats,  ultimately  arriving  in  the  United 
States.  The  Peruvian  subsequently  was  wrecked  on 
Silver  Keys.  In  December,  1813,  the  Saucy  Jack 
made  a  short  cruise,  in  which  she  captured  the  brig 
Agnes  and  the  sloop  John,  the  privateer  arriving  at 
Charleston  December  20th  of  the  same  year. 

Early  in  1814  this  boat  got  to  sea  on  her  fourth 
venture,  in  which  she  made  her  most  valuable  prize, 
the  Pelham,  the  following  account  of  which  was  for- 
warded to  the  Secretary  of  the  Navy:  "Charleston, 
May  21,  1814. — Arrived  at  this  port  yesterday  the 
large  and  elegant  ship  Pelham  (late  Captain  Boyd), 
Alexander  Taylor,  prize  master,  prize  to  the  priva- 
teer Saucy  Jack,  Captain  Chazel,  of  this  port.1  The 
Pelham  was  captured  on  the  30th  of  April  off  Cape 
Nocola  Mole  after  a  well-contested  action  of  upward 
of  two  hours.  She  was  finally  carried  by  boarding, 
after  her  crew  had  made  a  stout  and  gallant  resist- 
ance of  from  ten  to  fifteen  minutes  on  her  own 
decks.  We  learnt  on  board  that  the  officers  and 
crew  of  the  Pelham  behaved  throughout  the  action  in 
the  most  heroic  manner,  and  did  not  yield  until 
actually  overpowered  by  numbers.  The  Saucy  Jack 

1  Her  cargo  consisted  of  drygoods,  hardware,  etc.,  as  follows :  One 
hundred  and  ninety -four  packages  drygoods,  consisting  of  India  checks 
and  stripes,  gurrahs,  romals,  seersuckers,  bedticks,  ginghams,  calicoes, 
shawls,  Madras  and  Malabar  handkerchiefs,  Irish  linens,  lawn,  shirtings, 
brown  linen,  duck,  sheetings,  osnaburgs,  bagging,  shoes,  boots,  saddlery, 
etc.,  three  hundred  packages  sundries,  consisting  of  hardware,  glassware, 
mustard  pickles,  sauces,  preserves,  porter,  ale,  Madeira  and  sherry  wines, 
white  lead,  paints,  gunpowder,  linseed  oil,  glue,  ochre,  twines,  seines, 
hats,  etc. ;  one  organ  and  one  pianoforte. 


had  her  first  officer  and  one  man  killed  and  the  sec- 
ond officer,  captain  of  arms,  and  seven  men  wounded. 
On  board  the  Pelham  were  four  killed  and  eleven 
wounded;  among  the  latter  was  Captain  Boyd,  dan- 
gerously, in  the  breast.     He,  with  the  passengers, 
was   landed   at   Port-au-Prince.     The   Pelham   was 
from  London  bound  to  Port-au-Prince,  and  sailed 
from  Portsmouth  on  the  9th  of  March  with  the  same 
convoy,  of  which  we  have  already  had  accounts  from 
as  having  arrived  at  Halifax  and  bringing  London 
dates  to  the  7th  of  March.      Of  course  she  brings 
nothing  new.    The  day  previous  to  her  capture  she 
had  an  engagement  with  two  Carthaginian  priva- 
teers, which  she  succeeded  in  beating  off,  but  the 
courage  and  perseverance  of  the  officers  and  crew 
of  the  Saucy  Jack  were  not  so  easily  overcome.    This 
is  another  honorable  specimen  of  the  bravery  and 
good  conduct  of  American  seamen.    We  hardly  recol- 
lect to  have  seen  a  finer  ship  than  the  Pelham.    She 
is  five  hundred  and  forty  tons,  coppered  to  the  bends, 
mounts  ten  12-pounders  and  6-pounders  and  had  a 
complement  of  from  thirty-five  to  forty  men,  exclu- 
sive of  several  passengers.    She  is  almost  new,  this 
being  her  second  voyage,  and  is  in  every  way  fitted 
the  most  complete  of  any  merchant  ship  that  has 
entered  our  port  for  a  long  time.    Her  cabin  is  hung 
round  with  a  great  variety  of  large  and  eleganl 
colored  naval  prints  in  rich  gilt  frames,   among 
which  was  a  representation  of  the  engagement  be 
tween  the  Chesapeake  and  the  Shannon  in  two  views 
During  her  skirmish  with  the  Saucy  Jack,  an  18-pounc 
shot  from  the  long  torn  found  its  way  through  th( 
ship's  side  and  demolished  one  of  its  views,  with  sev 
eral  others."    On  the  31st  of  October,  1814,  the  Brit 
ish  bomb  ship  'Volcano,  Lieutenant  Price,  and  th< 
transports  Golden  Fleece  and  Balahoo,  with  some  tw< 
hundred  and  fifty  English  soldiers  on  board,  fell  i] 
with  this  doughty  privateer  of  Charleston.    At  tha 
time  the  vessels  were  off  the  west  end  of  Sau  DC 


mingo.  Captain  Chazel  had  been  cruising  in  this 
vicinity  with  a  little  tender  called  the  Packet  when 
he  discovered  the  English  vessels.  He  gave  chase, 
and,  under  the  impression  that  they  were  merchant- 
men, he  fired,  about  one  o'clock  on  the  following 
morning,  three  shots  from  his  long  torn,  which  fire 
the  Volcano  returned,  at  the  same  time  shortening 
sail  with  her  consorts  so  as  to  allow  the  audacious 
American  to  come  up.  The  wind  was  light  and  the 
darkness  rendered  it  difficult  to  make  out  the  exact 
force  of  the  strangers.  At  six  o'clock  in  the  morn- 
ing the  vessels  were  within  half  gunshot.  It  was 
then  that  Captain  Chazel  discovered  that  one  of  the 
ships  mounted  sixteen  guns  and  the  other  eighteen; 
but,  as  they  did  not  appear  to  be  well  manned,  he 
determined  upon  an  attack.  At  seven  o'clock  he 
showed  his  colors  and  began  an  action  with  the  Vol- 
cano, that  craft  being  nearest  to  him.  Following  the 
favorite  tactics  of  American  privateersmen,  Captain 
Chazel  lost  no  time  in  getting  alongside  the  enemy, 
and  prepared  to  board  on  her  port  beam. 

Just  as  the  Americans  were  about  to  spring  to 
the  enemy's  decks  Captain  Chazel  suddenly  discov- 
ered that  the  stranger  was  full  of  soldiers.  The 
order  recalling  boarders  was  promptly  given,  and 
the  Saucy  Jack  sheered  off  and  made  all  sail  to 
escape.  Two  of  the  English  ships,  the  Volcano  and 
the  Golden  Fleece,  gave  chase,  and  maintained  a 
spirited  fire  for  nearly  an  hour,  when,  finding  that 
they  were  losing  ground,  they  desisted.  When  the 
Saucy  Jack  was  close  to  them  the  British  soldiers 
poured  in  a  destructive  fire  of  musketry,  killing  eight 
and  wounding  fifteen  of  the  Americans.  The  priva- 
teer also  was  somewhat  cut  up  in  her  hull,  spars, 
and  rigging.  The  enemy  had  three  men  killed,  in- 
cluding Lieutenant  W.  P.  Futzen,  and  two  men 



OF  the  forty  privateers  sent  out  from  Salem  in 
the  War  of  1812,  the  America,  with  the  possible  ex- 
ception of  the  Grand  Turk,  was  the  most  successful. 
She  is  reputed  to  have  been  the  fastest  sailing  craft 
afloat  during  that  struggle,  and  her  numerous 
escapes  from  British  cruisers  seem  to  bear  out  this 
reputation.  She  was  a  350-ton  craft,  built  in  1804, 
and  usually  carried  twenty  guns  and  a  complement 
of  one  hundred  and  fifty  men.  In  this  war  she  made 
twenty-six  prizes,  and  the  property  taken  from  them 
and  brought  safely  into  port  realized  one  million  one 
hundred  thousand  dollars,  wrhile  the  amount  of  prop- 
erty she  destroyed  at  sea  would  be  represented  by 
a  much  larger  figure.  She  thus  proved  to  be  a  veri- 
table "  gold  mine "  for  her  owners,  the  Messrs. 
George  Orowninshield  &  Sons. 

This  vessel  frequently  has  been  confused  with 
the  privateer  America,  which  was  commissioned  by 
John  Adams  in  1802,  and  made  one  cruise  before 
hostilities  with  France  ceased.  The  Crowninshields 
took  a  prominent  part  in  the  struggle  for  American 
independence,  Captain  Benjamin  Crowninshield  hav- 
ing fought  in  the  battle  of  Bunker  Hill. 

It  was  always  the  good  fortune  of  the  America  to 
be  commanded  by  the  ablest  captain  that  could  be 
had,  to  which  circumstance,  doubtless,  is  largelj 
due  her  uniform  success.  Joseph  Ropes,  one  of  the 
best-known  "  sea  dogs  "  in  his  day,  had  charge  ol 

1812.  OFF  ON  HER  FIEST  OEUISE.  329 

this  privateer  on  her  maiden  cruise,  in  1812,  while 
on  her  third  and  fourth  ventures  she  was  com- 
manded by  James  Chever,  Jr.,  who  also  was  said  to 
have  been  "  as  slick  a  skipper  as  ever  gave  slip  to  a 
British  frigate."  The  America  returned  from  her 
third  cruise  with  twelve  prizes  and  fifty  prisoners. 

In  her  essays  against  British  commerce  the 
America  demonstrated  what  a  terrible  scourge  a 
well  equipped  and  manned  commerce  destroyer 
could  be  in  the  hands  of  a  bold,  skillful,  and  adroit 
commander.  "  She  started  on  her  first  cruise  from 
Salem  Monday  morning,  September  7,  1812,  at  half 
past  eleven  o'clock,"  so  her  log  reads.  By  noon  she 
reached  Baker's  Island,  and  shortly  afterward  she 
was  bowling  along  the  ocean  swells  in  quest  of  prey. 
The  inauspicious  omen  of  an  accident  at  the  begin- 
ning of  the  cruise — so  potent  with  most  sailors — 
did  not  seem  to  have  seriously  affected  the  gallant 
tars  in  this  well-named  craft,  notwithstanding  the 
additional  significance  of  the  accident  occurring  on 

On  Friday,  September  llth,  when  the  ship's  com- 
pany had  scarcely  begun  to  get  well  broken  into  their 
new  surroundings,  the  main  topmast  was  carried 
away,  and  the  five  men  who  were  on  it  at  the  time 
were  thrown  into  the  sea.  The  accident  happened  in 
a  heavy  gale,  these  men  having  been  sent  up  to  make 
snug.  The  ship  was  promptly  sent  round,  a  boat 
lowered,  and,  after  much  risk  and  danger  from  the 
swamping  of  the  boat,  the  sailors  were  rescued.  All 
hands  were  called  and  set  to  work  repairing  the 
damage  and  in  a  few  hours  the  wreck  was  cleared, 
a  new  spar  sent  up  and  rigged,  and  the  good  ship 
again  was  bounding  along  the  ocean.  About  5.30 
A.  M.  Wednesday,  September  23d,  the  America  sighted 
a  sail,  and  after  a  short  chase  captured  the  British 
brig  James  and  Charlotte,  commanded  by  a  Mr.  Lavitt, 
from  Liverpool  bound  for  St.  John's.  Her  hold 
was  found  to  be  well  stocked  with  hats,  drygoods, 

33Q  CAREER  OF  THE  AMERICA.  1812. 

coal,  etc.,  and  as  the  Americans  stood  in  need  of 
these  articles  they  decided  to  take  them.  Mr.  Tib- 
betts,  with  six  men,  was  placed  aboard  the  brig  as 
a  prize  master,  with  orders  to  make  for  the  nearest 
American  port.  He  brought  the  brig  safely  into 

Captain  Eopes  was  one  of  those  commanders 
who  believed  that  fighting  was  not  a  happy-go-lucky 
operation,  but  a  science,  which  by  constant  exercise 
could  be  reduced  to  the  nicest  perfection.  He  there- 
fore employed  much  of  his  spare  time  between 
chases  in  exercising  his  men  at  the  great  guns  and 
in  rapid  drills  with  small  arms.  The  result  was  that, 
although  his  seamen  were  not  uniformed  and  had 
served  together  only  a  short  time,  they  soon  became 
as  dexterous  in  these  matters  as  the  most  exacting 
man-of-warsman  could  desire. 

Passing  the  island  of  St.  Michael  October  5th, 
Captain  Eopes  did  not  see  a  sail  of  note  until  a 
month  afterward.  At  4  p.  M.  Friday,  November  6th, 
a  stranger  was  reported  to  the  south,  and  the  Amer- 
ica promptly  wore  round  and  gave  chase.  After  a 
hard  sail  the  stranger  was  brought  to  and  boarded. 
She  was  found  to  be  the  British  brig  Benjamin,  bound 
for  England  from  Newfoundland,  under  the  com- 
mand of  James  Collins.  Taking  the  mate,  with  seven 
men,  aboard  the  America,  and  leaving  Collins,  one 
man,  and  a  boy  aboard  the  Benjamin,  Captain  Eopes 
resumed  his  cruise,  after  placing  Joseph  Dixon,  and 
eight  men,  aboard  the  brig  as  a  prize  master,  with 
instructions  to  make  the  most  available  port  in 
America  north  of  Nantucket. 

The  second  week  after  this  the  America  had  an 
exciting  chase  lasting  nearly  two  days.  Early  on 
the  morning  of  November  18th  a  sail  was  reported 
to  the  northwest,  and  Captain  Eopes  promptly  let 
out  two  reefs  from  the  topsails,  in  spite  of  the  stiff 
gale  blowing  at  the  time,  and,  setting  his  main  top- 
gallant sail,  gave  chase.  All  that  night  the  stranger 

1812.  A  HAED  STERN  CHASE.  331 

led  the  Yankee  a  hard  stern  chase,  and  at  times  dis- 
appeared from  view  altogether,  but  by  keeping  a 
sharp  lookout,  and  with  the  aid  of  night  glasses,  the 
Americans  managed  to  keep  track  of  her.  It  was 
not  until  the  afternoon  of  the  following  day  that  the 
chase  was  overtaken  and  brought  to.  She  had 
proved  to  be  a  remarkably  fast-sailing  craft,  and 
had  given  the  America  all  she  wanted  to  do  in  coming 
up  with  her.  Captain  Ropes  found  his  prize  to  be 
the  Ralph  Nicker  son,  of  and  for  London  from 
Quebec,  laden  with  lumber  and  having  an  armament 
of  eight  guns.  John  Procter  and  eleven  men  were 
placed  aboard,  and  succeeded  in  running  her  into 

Early  on  the  morning  of  the  following  Tuesday, 
November  24th,  the  America  made  another  sail,  and 
by  nine  o'clock  found  her  to  be  the  British  12-gun 
ship  Hope,  from  St.  Thomas  for  Glasgow,  laden  with 
sugar,  rum,  and  cotton.  This  proved  to  be  the  most 
valuable  prize  thus  far  the  privateer  had  taken, 
and  Captain  Eopes  placed  twelve  men,  under  Joseph 
Valpey,  in  charge  of  her,  with  orders  to  make  for  the 
United  States.  Prom  the  master  of  the  Hope  the 
Americans  learned  that  she  had  left  a  fleet  of  forty- 
five  merchantmen  only  three  days  before,  which  were 
under  the  convoy  of  the  sloops  of  war  Ringdove  and 
Scorpion.  As  the  America  herself  was  a  pretty  good 
match  for  a  sloop  of  war  singly,  Captain  Ropes  was 
not  averse  to  meeting  one  of  these  cruisers,  al- 
though, of  course,  he  preferred  capturing  the  mer- 
chantmen under  their  escort.  At  all  events,  he  made 
sail  in  the  direction  of  the  fleet,  hoping  to  meet  the 

Late  in  the  afternoon  of  the  following  day  a  sail 
was  discovered  to  the  south  standing  easterly. 
Chase  was  promptly  given,  and  with  such  success 
that  within  an  hour  a  shot  from  one  of  the  America's 
guns  induced  the  stranger  to  heave  to.  She  was  the 
British  brig  Dart,  carrying  eight  guns,  also  one  of 

332  CAREER  OF  THE  AMERICA.  1812/ 

the  great  fleet  of  merchantmen.  Her  cargo,  like 
the  Hope's,  consisted  principally  of  rum  and  cotton. 
The  America's  boat,  in  returning  from  the  brig  with 
Mr.  Sparhawk  and  Thomas  Fuller  and  five  prisoners, 
unfortunately  got  under  the  privateer's  counter  and 
foundered.  The  two  American  officers  and  three  of 
the  prisoners  were  saved,  but  the  other  prisoners 
were  drowned.  Captain  Eopes  kept  in  sight  of  this 
prize  all  that  and  the  following  day,  but  as  there 
were  no  further  signs  of  the  great  fleet  he,  at  3.30 
p.  M.,  November  27th,  signaled  the  brig  to  bear  down 
under  his  lee.  This  being  done,  Anthony  D.  Caulfield, 
with  eight  men,  was  placed  aboard  the  Dart  as  the 
prize  master  and  sailed  for  the  United  States,  after 
all  of  the  brig's  people,  excepting  the  captain,  a  pas- 
senger, and  one  man,  had  been  transferred  to  the 
privateer.  The  Dart  safely  arrived  at  Salem. 

Finding  that  several  of  his  officers  and  a  number 
of  the  crew  were  attacked  with  a  very  troublesome 
inflammation  of  the  eyes,  which  could  not  be  ac- 
counted for  and  which  seemed  to  be  contagious,  Cap- 
tain Eopes  determined  to  return  to  the  United 
States.  His  supply  of  water  also  was  getting  so  low 
that  he  was  compelled  to  curtail  the  allowance  to 
three  and  a  half  pints  every  twenty-four  hours  for 
a  man.  Even  on  her  homeward  passage  the  America 
was  attended  with  good  fortune.  Early  on  the 
morning  of  December  16th,  when  near  the  Western 
Isles,  a  sail  was  descried  to  the  southeast,  and  the 
privateer  made  all  sail  in  chase.  By  eight  o'clock 
the  stranger  was  seen  to  be  a  brig  steering  east- 
ward, apparently  anxious  to  avoid  the  America. 
This  only  whetted  the  desire  of  the  Yankees  to  get 
alongside,  and  by  eleven  o'clock  they  had  the  chase 
under  their  guns.  She  was  the  English  brig  Eu- 
phemia,  of  Glasgow,  bound  for  Gibraltar  from  La 
Guayra,  with  four  hundred  thousand  pounds  of  coffee 
aboard.  She  carried  ten  guns  and  was  manned  by 
twenty-five  men,  under  the  command  of  John  Gray. 


1818.  EBB  SECOND  CRUISE.  333 

The  next  day  Captain  Eopes  took  the  first  and 
second  officers,  twenty-one  men,  and  eight  guns 
from  his  prize,  and  placing  on  board  of  her  Archi- 
bald S.  Dennis,  with  eleven  men,  as  a  prize  master, 
resumed  his  course  for  the  United  States.  The 
Euphemia  in  due  time  reached  Portland,  Maine.  The 
America  arrived  in  Salem  harbor  on  the  afternoon  of 
January  7, 1813,  having  completed  a  highly  success- 
ful cruise  of  one  hundred  and  twenty-two  days.  Her 
six  prizes  were  valued  at  one  hundred  and  fifty-eight 
thousand  dollars. 

This  privateer  got  to  sea  again  for  her  second 
cruise  in  January,  1813,  and  returned  to  Bath,  Maine, 
in  July  of  the  same  year,  having  made  ten  prizes. 
Of  these  two  were  ordered  to  France,  three  arrived 
in  American  ports,  two  were  recaptured,  and  three 
were  converted  into  cartels  so  as  to  get  rid  of  the 
prisoners,  of  whom  one  hundred  and  thirty  were  pa- 
roled and  thirty  were  brought  into  port.  One  of 
these  prizes  was  the  American  ship  St.  Lawrence,  of 
New  York,  which  had  on  board  a  full  cargo  of  British 
goods  from  Liverpool,  and  on  her  arrival  in  Ports- 
mouth, New  Hampshire,  both  ship  and  goods  were 

We  get  some  idea  of  the  peculiar  excitement  at- 
tending the  ventures  of  privateers  on  the  high  seas 
by  looking  over  the  cargoes  captured  by  the  America 
in  her  second  and  third  cruises,  in  the  latter  ven- 
ture the  privateer  being  credited  with  twelve  prizes. 
We  have  first  the  220-ton  brig  Margaret,  of  ten  guns, 
having  one  thousand  hogsheads  of  salt  aboard,  from 
Cadiz  bound  for  Newfoundland,  which  was  carried 
into  Salem;  the  300-ton  brig  Sovereign,  of  and  for 
Liverpool,  with  an  assorted  cargo,  which  was  sold 
in  Portsmouth,  New  Hampshire;  the  brig  Brothers, 
which  was  sent  into  Fuenterrabia,  Spain,  and  sold 
there  by  the  consent  of  the  officials;  the  250-ton  brig 
Apollo,  of  Poole,  with  one  thousand  hogsheads  of 
salt,  which  shared  the  fate  of  the  Margaret;  the 

334  CAREER  OF  THE  AMERICA.  1818-1815. 

schooner  Hope,  from  St.  Andrews  for  Barbadoes, 
laden  with  lumber,  beef,  and  oil;  and  the  schooner 
Sylph,  of  Liverpool,  Nova  Scotia,  with  fish,  oil,  etc. 
Several  prizes  were  destroyed  at  sea,  and  a  number 
were  released  so  as  to  get  rid  of  prisoners.  In  this 
cruise  the  America,  commanded  by  James  Chever, 
Jr.,  left  Bath  December  3,  1813,  and  returned  to 
Portsmouth  April,  1814. 

In  her  last  cruise  in  this  war  the  America  had  a 
battle  with  an  English  privateer.  The  Yankees 
sailed  from  port  early  in  November,  1814,  and  made 
directly  for  European  waters.  On  January  22,  1815, 
she  took  the  schooner  Arrow,  from  Catalonia  for  Lon- 
don, having  on  board  one  hundred  casks  of  almonds 
and  one  thousand  six  hundred  and  fifty  casks  of 
hazelnuts,  the  prize  being  sent  into  Salem.  About 
the  same  time  the  America  took  the  valuable  brig 
Adeona,  with  four  hundred  and  fifty  bales  of  broad- 
cloth, which  also  was  sent  into  Salem.  One  of  the 
America's  prizes,  the  schooner  Thistle,  was  recap- 
tured March  19,  1815,  while  off  Cape  Sable,  by  the 
British  sloop  of  war  Cossack;  but  on  being  sent  into 
Halifax  the  Thistle  was  restored  to  the  Americans, 
as  her  recapture  had  taken  place  after  the  time  limit 
set  by  the  treaty. 

It  was  in  March  that  the  America  came  across  the 
English  privateer  Elizabeth,  a  ship  carrying  eight 
guns  and  thirty-one  men.  The  advantages  in  weight 
of  metal  and  number  of  guns  and  men  were  so  much 
in  favor  of  the  Americans  that  in  twenty  minutes 
the  Englishmen  surrendered,  but  not  without  mak- 
ing a  gallant  defense,  in  which  two  of  their  men 
were  killed  and  thirteen  wounded.  So  rapid  and 
effective  was  the  America's  gunnery  that,  in  the 
brief  time  the  actual  fighting  lasted,  the  Elizabeth 
had  seven  hundred  shot  holes— including  grape, 
canister,  and  musket  shots— in  her  hull,  spars,  and 
sails.  After  depriving  her  of  .her  armament  the 
Americans  returned  the  prize  to  her  surviving 




people,  as,  being  in  ballast,  she  was  of  little  value 
to  her  captors. 

Some  of  the  other  prizes  taken  by  the  Amentia 
in  this  cruise  were  the  schooner  Smft  and  the  brig 
Enterprise.  The  Enterprise,  on  her  passage  to  Amer- 
ica, was  overtaken  by  a  severe  storm,  and  was  com- 

The  America,  owned  by  George  Crowninshield  &  Sons,  the 

most  noted  Salein  privateer. 

Prom  an  old  painting  owned  by  W.  S.  Chever,  son  of  Captain  James  W.  Chever, 
who  commanded  the  America. 

pelled  to  put  into  Fayal  in  distress,  where  she  was 
condemned.  The  following  vessels  were  destroyed 
at  sea  by  the  America:  the  schooner  Robert,  the  sloop 
Jubilee,  the  cutter  Busy,  and  the  schooner  Black  Joke. 
The  America  arrived  at  Salem  from  her  last  ven- 
ture, April  10, 1815,  after  a  cruise  of  one  hundred  and 
thirty-four  days.  In  the  course  of  the  war  she 
netted  her  owners  six  hundred  thousand  dollars. 
On  the  close  of  hostilities  she  was  tied  up  at  Crown- 
inshield's  wharf,  where  she  remained  a  number  of 
years.  In  June,  1831,  she  was  sold  at  auction  and 
broken  up. 



ON  October  20,  1813,  the  American  privateer 
David  Porter  was  lying  at  Providence,  Rhode  Island, 
taking  in  an  assorted  cargo  for  Charleston,  South 
Carolina.  As  her  name  implies,  she  was  not  one  of 
the  first  privateers  to  get  to  sea,  for  Captain  Por- 
ter did  not  make  his  great  name  in  naval  history 
until  he  went  on  his  celebrated  cruise  around  Cape 
Horn  and  devastated  British  commerce  in  the  Pa- 
cific, and  that  was  in  1813-'14  The  privateer  which 
bore  his  name  had  been  one  of  our  famous,  swift- 
sailing  pilot  boats,  and  on  being  converted  into  a  war 
craft  carried  a  long  18-pounder  amidships  and  four 
6-pounders — a  somewhat  light  armament,  but,  not- 
withstanding, a  serviceable  one,  as  will  be  seen.  Her 
commander,  George  Coggeshall,  was  one  of  the 
ablest  captains  in  the  privateer  service.  He  came 
from  good  New  England  stock,  and  had  no  superior 
in  the  art  of  "  handling  men."  It  was  the  good  for- 
tune of  this  craft  to  be  officered  largely  by  men  who 
had  served  in  the  regular  navy,  for  at  that  time  the 
United  States  44-gun  frigate  President,  Captain  John 
Eodgers,  had  come  to  this  port  after  a  long  cruise, 
and  some  thirty  of  her  petty  officers  and  seamen 
enlisted  in  the  David  Porter. 

Having    finished    loading,    Captain    Coggeshall 

dropped  down  the  river  to  Newport,  where  he  waited 

for  a  favorable  opportunity  to  get  to  sea.    So  great 

had  been  the  terror  inspired  by  American  frigates 


1818.  THE  DAVID  POETEE  GETS  TO  SEA.  337 

in  this  war  that  whenever  one  of  them  was  known 
to  be  in  port  the  British  promptly  stationed  several 
ships  of  the  line  and  frigates  for  the  express  pur- 
pose of  keeping  her  there.  Such  was  the  case  with 
the  President,  and  when  Captain  Coggeshall  reached 
Newport  he  found  that  it  would  be  extremely  haz- 
ardous to  run  the  blockade. 

Determined,  however,  to  get  to  sea  at  any  risk, 
Captain  Coggeshall  waited  for  a  dark,  boisterous 
night,  when  he  could  trust  to  his  superior  knowledge 
of  the  coast  and  the  cover  of  the  night  to  elude  the 
enemy.  Such  an  opportunity  was  afforded  Novem- 
ber 14th,  when  toward  evening  a  genuine  New  Eng- 
land snowstorm,  from  the  northeast,  caused  the 
British  officers  to  linger  over  their  porter  and  cheese 
longer  than  usual,  and  discouraged  all  attempts  to 
keep  the  deck.  The  shrewd  Yankee  skipper  un- 
doubtedly was  aware  of  this  weakness  of  his  British 
cousins,  and  rightly  judging  that  most  of  them  would 
be  shivering  in  their  bunks  or  hammocks,  and  that 
the  watch  on  deck  would  be  more  anxiously  seeking 
the  lee  side  of  a  mast  or  cabin  than  watching  for 
American  frigates,  he  boldly  stood  out  to  sea  and 
passed  the  hostile  ships  unchallenged. 

On  the  run  to  Charleston  the  David  Porter  was 
chased  several  times  by  British  cruisers,  for  our 
coast  was  swarming  with  craft  of  that  ilk,  but  in 
each  instance  she  managed  to  escape.  On  November 
26th,  however,  the  privateer  had  a  chase  that  was 
too  close  to  be  pleasant.  At  daybreak,  being  in  ten 
fathoms  of  water  off  Cape  Eomain,  Captain  Cogge- 
shall discovered  a  British  brig  of  war  just  out  of  gun- 
shot off  his  weather  bow  which  promptly  gave  chase. 
The  wind  at  the  time  was  off  the  land,  and  the  Brit- 
ish kept  to  windward,  hoping  to  force  the  privateer 
leeward.  Just  out  of  sight  of  Charleston  bar  were 
stationed  two  more  of  the  enemy's  brigs  of  war,  and 
it  was  the  purpose  of  the  commander  of  the  brig 
first  discovered  to  drive  the  chase  into  the  open 


arms  of  his  consorts.  Aware  of  the  trap  that  was 
being  so  nicely  arranged  for  him.  Captain  Cogge- 
shall  resolved  to  hug  the  wind,  push  boldly  for  the 
channel  at  the  bar,  and  defend  himself  from  attack 
the  best  he  could.  Knowing  that  this  was  his  only 
chance  of  escape,  the  American  skipper  held  steadily 
on  his  course,  the  enemy  making  strenuous  efforts 
to  get  within  striking  distance. 

For  four  hours  the  vessels  bowed  under  a  press 
of  canvas,  the  advantage  being  slightly  with  the 
privateer,  when  the  latter  gained  the  bar  and  waited 
for  the  leading  brig  to  come  within  gunshot.  In  a 
few  minutes  the  David  Porter  let  go  her  long  torn, 
and  with  such  good  aim  that  it  struck  the  water 
near  the  Briton  and  threw  spray  over  his  port 
quarter.  The  brig,  being  armed  with  short  guns, 
could  not  return  the  compliment  without  coming  to 
much  closer  quarters,  and  this  her  commander  has- 
tily decided  to  do;  for  about  that  time  the  famous 
American  privateers  Decatur,  Captain  Diron,  and 
Adeline,  Captain  E.  Craycroft,  came  down  Charleston 
harbor  in  gallant  style,  ready  to  join  the  David  Por- 
ter in  a  general  fight  with  the  brigs.  The  enemy, 
probably  overestimating  the  force  of  the  Americans, 
promptly  squared  their  yards  and  ran  to  leeward. 
The  Decatur  had  recently  arrived  in  Charleston  after 
her  brilliant  victory  over  the  British  war  ship  Do- 
minica.1  Proceeding  up  the  harbor  while  the  Decatur 
and  the  Adeline  stood  to  sea  on  another  cruise,  Cap- 
tain Coggeshall  unloaded,  and  obtaining  a  full  cargo 
sailed,  December  20,  1813,  for  Bordeaux,  France. 

As  showing  the  profits  and  risks  of  privateering 
at  that  time,  it  will  be  noted  that  the  David  Porter 
had  on  board  three  hundred  and  thirty-one  bales  of 
cotton  at  twenty-six  cents  a  pound,  with  five  per 
cent,  "primage."  The  gross  freight  and  primage 
on  this  cotton  was  twenty-three  thousand  dollars, 

1  See  pp.  311-819. 

1813.  A  SLIPPERY  PRIZE.  339 

which,  considering  that  she  was  a  vessel  of  only 
two  hundred  tons,  seems  like  an  enormous  freight 
on  sea  island  cotton,  which  article  at  that  time 
could  be  purchased  for  twelve  or  thirteen  cents  a 
pound.  But  this  charge  for  freight,  when  the  enor- 
mous expense  of  running  a  privateer,  with  her  large 
crew,  is  considered,  was  not  exorbitant.  Marine 
insurance  had  risen  to  fifteen  and  even  twenty  per 
cent.,  and  seamen's  wages  were  thirty  dollars  a 

One  of  the  risks  incurred  by  privateers  was  well 
illustrated  when  the  David  Porter  was  ready  to  sail. 
This  was  on  December  18th,  but  adverse  winds  de- 
tained her.  Meantime  Captain  Coggeshall  learned 
that  Congress  was  expected  at  any  moment  to  de- 
clare an  embargo.  Should  the  privateer  be  caught 
in  port  when  this  new  move  of  the  Government  was 
made  it  would  result  in  the  bankruptcy  of  the 
owners  of  the  vessel  and  her  officers.  Determined  to 
avoid  detention  in  port,  Captain  Coggeshall  kept  his 
crew  confined  to  the  ship  and  dropped  down  the 
harbor  as  far  as  possible  so  as  to  watch  for  the  first 
favorable  opportunity  to  get  to  sea.  This  occurred 
December  20th,  and  aided  by  a  fine  breeze  the  David 
Porter  made  a  good  run  off  the  coast. 

Nothing  worth  noting  occurred  until  about  4  p.  M. 
December  27th,  when,  in  a  strong  northwest  gale, 
the  privateer  fell  in  with  a  small  English  vessel  from 
Jamaica  bound  for  Nova  Scotia.  As  the  seas  were 
too  violent  to  permit  boarding,  Captain  Coggeshall 
ordered  the  prize  to  follow  him  on  his  course,  intend- 
ing to  examine  her  more  closely  when  favored  with 
better  weather.  The  Englishmen  reluctantly  obeyed, 
and  as  night  came  on  showed  a  disposition  to  edge 
away.  Thereupon  the  Americans  hailed,  and  in 
pretty  sharp  language  told  the  British  master  that 
if  he  continued  to  lag  behind,  or  did  not  carry  all  the 
sail  his  brig  could  bear,  he  would  feel  the  effects 
of  the  David  Porter's  stern  guns.  This  admonition 


had  the  desired  effect,  but  at  midnight  it  suddenly 
came  on  very  dark  and  squally,  so  that  Captain 
Coggeshall  lost  all  trace  of  his  first  prize,  nor  did  he 
see  her  again. 

From  this  time  the  David  Porter  scarcely  descried 
a  sail  until  she  entered  the  Bay  of  Biscay.  Knowing 
that  several  English  war  ships  were  stationed  off 
the  Bordeaux  Light,  Captain  Coggeshall  decided 
not  to  enter  the  Garonne,  but  to  run  for  La  Teste. 
About  a  week  before  reaching  that  port  she  was 
overtaken  by  a  terrific  gale,  which  began  early  on 
the  morning  of  January  19,  1814,  and  continued 
through  the  following  day.  By  eight  o'clock  in  the 
morning  of  the  first  day  it  blew  with  the  force  of 
a  hurricane,  which  raised  a  dangerous  cross  sea. 

Captain  Coggeshall  hove  to  under  double-reefed 
foresail,  lowered  his  foreyard  near  the  deck,  and 
made  everything  as  tight  as  possible.  About  noon 
a  tremendous  wave  struck  the  David  Porter  just 
abaft  the  starboard  fore  shrouds,  crushing  in  one 
of  the  stanchions,  and  split  open  the  plank-sheer 
so  that  it  was  possible  to  see  into  the  hold.  The  ves- 
sel was  thrown  nearly  on  her  beam  ends,  where  for 
some  time  it  was  uncertain  whether  she  would  right 
herself  or  continue  to  go  over.  Fortunately  her 
foresail  split  and  the  lee  bulwark  was  torn  away  by 
the  water.  Being  relieved  of  this  pressure  the  vessel 
gradually  righted,  but  her  people  had  become  so 
alarmed  for  her  safety  that  two  of  her  lee  guns  were 
thrown  overboard,  together  with  some  water  casks. 
After  nailing  tarred  canvas  and  leather  over  the 
broken  plank-sheer  Captain  Coggeshall  got  ready  to 
veer  ship,  fearing  that  the  injury  the  schooner  had 
received  might  affect  the  foremast.  A  small  piece 
of  the  mainsail  accordingly  was  got  in  readiness 
for  hoisting,  and  then,  keeping  her  before  the  wind 
for  a  few  minutes,  they  watched  for  a  favorable 
opportunity  to  bring  her  to  the  wind  on  the  other 

1814.  IN  A  TERRIFIC  GALE.  341 

During  the  time  she  was  running  before  the  wind, 
so  her  officers  declare,  she  appeared  to  leap  from  one 
wave  to  another.  Captain  Coggeshall  brought  his 
craft  up  to  the  wind  on  the  other  tack  without  acci- 
dent, and  under  a  small  piece  of  canvas  she  lay  to, 
waiting  for  the  wind  to  subside.  Fearing  that  he 
might  ship  another  sea,  Captain  Coggeshall  pre- 
pared a  novel  device  for  "  anchoring "  the  head 
of  his  ship  to  the  wind.  Taking  a  square  sail  boom, 
spanned  at  each  end  with  a  four-inch  rope,  and  with 
the  small  bower  cable  made  fast  to  the  bight  of  the 
span,  the  other  end  being  made  fast  to  the  foremast, 
the  boom  was  thrown  overboard  and  was  run  out 
some  sixty  fathoms.  The  effect  was  miraculous. 
The  boom  broke  the  force  of  the  waves  and  kept  the 
schooner's  head  to  the  sea,  so  that  she  rode  like  a 
gull  until  the  storm  abated.  It  was  not  until  after- 
noon of  the  following  day  that  the  David  Porter 
again  made  sail,  and  six  days  later  she  made  La 
Teste,  thirty-six  days  from  Charleston. 

Arriving  at  this  port  Captain  Coggeshall  learned 
that  a  large  number  of  vessels  had  foundered  in  the 
gale  which  so  nearly  ended  his  career,  and  that  the 
coasts  for  miles  were  strewn  with  wrecks.  Five 
English  transports  had  been  thrown  ashore  near 
La  Teste,  most  of  their  people  perishing. 

La  Teste  proved  to  be  a  miserable  village  with 
little  or  no  facilities  for  supplying  ships.  Besides 
this  the  people  were  greatly  excited  by  the  ap- 
proach of  the  allied  forces  to  Paris  and  the  advance 
of  Lord  Wellington's  army  toward  Bordeaux,  only 
thirty  miles  from  La  Teste.  Such  being  the  unset- 
tled state  of  affairs,  Captain  Coggeshall  found  great 
difficulty  in  disposing  of  his  cargo  or  in  securing 
supplies  for  another  cruise.  Furthermore,  it  was 
expected  that  the  English  would  seize  Bordeaux  and 
La  Teste,  in  which  case  the  career  of  the  David  Porter 
would  probably  be  cut  short.  Proceeding  to  Bor- 
deaux on  horseback  Captain  Coggeshall  finally  in- 


duced  his  consignees  to  purchase  for  him  one  hun- 
dred casks  of  wine  and  fifty  pipes  of  brandy,  which 
they  were  to  send  in  a  small  coasting  vessel  to  La 
Bochelle,  there  to  be  taken  aboard  the  David  Porter. 
This  port  was  selected  as  it  was  strongly  fortified 
and  probably  would  hold  out  longer  than  Bordeaux. 
All  the  American  vessels  had  left  the  latter  place, 
and  were  at  the  mouth  of  the  Garonne  waiting  for 
an  opportunity  to  sail  for  the  United  States  or  La 

Eeturning  to  La  Teste  Captain  Ooggeshall  made 
strenuous  though  futile  efforts  to  secure  enough 
supplies  for  his  vessel,  the  solitary  baker  in  the  place 
being  able  to  furnish  only  two  bags  of  bread  for  a 
ship  having  a  complement  of  thirty-five  healthy  men. 
It  was  here  that  Captain  Coggeshall  learned  of  the 
capture  of  Bordeaux  by  the  English,  and  he  had 
reason  to  congratulate  himself  on  his  forethought  in 
making  La  Teste  rather  than  Bordeaux.  But  even 
his  efforts  to  get  away  from  La  Teste  before  that 
place  should  be  seized  by  the  English  were  stub- 
bornly combated  by  the  weather  and  an  obstinate 
pilot.  Winds  and  tides  frustrated  all  endeavors  to 
make  an  offing  until  March  13th,  when  the  pilot  de- 
clared that  five  o'clock  in  the  afternoon  would  be 
the  time  to  cross  the  bar.  Every  minute  the  Ameri- 
cans expected  to  see  British  colors  hoisted  over  the 
town  and  their  ship  made  a  prize,  and  as  the  hours 
dragged  along  to  the  time  mentioned  by  the  pilot 
they  anxiously  scanned  the  approaches 'to  the  vil- 
lage and  harbor.  At  four  o'clock  Captain  Cogge- 
shall requested  the  pilot  to  get  under  way,  but  it  was 
then  learned  that  the  pilot  was  unwilling  to  go  out 
at  all,  fearing  that  he  might  be  carried  to  America, 
so  that  his  wife  and  family  would  be  left  unpro- 
vided for. 

"Captain,"  he  said,  "if  we  should  succeed  in 
getting  out  it  would  be  impossible  to  land  me." 

In  vain  did  Captain  Coggeshall  assure  him  that 


he  would  cruise  in  the  vicinity  a  week  if  necessary 
in  order  to  land  the  pilot  if  he  would  only  take  the 
ship  over  the  bar.  In  vain  did  he  show  how  the 
David  Porter  might  become  a  prize  of  the  British  at 
any  moment,  and  equally  futile  were  his  offers  to 
double  and  treble  the  pilot's  fees.  .Finally,  seeing 
that  persuasion  was  of  no  avail,  the  American  com- 
mander resolved  upon  strategy.  To  his  proposi- 
tion: "  If  you  will  not  go  to  sea,  just  get  the  schooner 
under  way  and  go  down  below  the  fort  and  anchor 
there  within  the  bar,"  the  pilot  assented.  But  when 
below  the  fort  Captain  Coggeshall  seized  a  loaded 
pistol,  held  it  to  the  pilot's  head,  and  declared  that 
he  would  shoot  if  the  latter  did  not  take  the  ship 
over  the  bar.  The  American  commander  also  de- 
clared that  if  the  David  Porter  took  the  ground  the 
pilot  would  be  held  equally  accountable.  Thorough- 
ly frightened  the  pilot  got  the  ship  over  in  less  than 
fifteen  minutes,  and  a  few  days  later  he  was  landed 
on  his  native  shore,  while  the  David  Porter  stood  off 
to  the  northwest. 

Scarcely  had  the  privateer  turned  her  head  on 
her  new  course  when  she  had  a  narrow  escape  from 
capture.  At  daylight  March  15,  1814,  during  a 
heavy  mist,  the  lookout  reported  a  large  ship  on 
the  weather  quarter,  and  as  the  haze  lifted  it  was 
seen  to  be  a  large  frigate,  without  doubt  an  enemy. 
Captain  Coggeshall  realized  the  danger  of  his  posi- 
tion, and  maneuvered  some  ten  or  fifteen  minutes 
in  the  hope  of  drawing  the  stranger  down  to  lee- 
ward so  he  would  be  able  to  weather  the  frigate 
on  one  tack  or  the  other.  This  was  the  favorite  trick 
of  Yankee  privateersmen  in  this  war,  for  if  the  swift- 
sailing  pilot  boats  once  succeeded  in  getting  an 
enemy  under  their  lee  they  could  laugh  at  all  efforts 
to  come  to  close  quarters.  But  the  commander  of 
the  frigate  evidently  was  aware  of  this  maneuver, 
and  instead  of  coming  down  he  only  kept  off  four 
or  six  points  and  steadily  gained  on  the  privateer, 


then  only  two  gunshots  to  leeward.  Eealizing  the 
seriousness  of  the  situation,  Captain  Coggeshall  held 
a  consultation  of  his  officers,  at  which  it  was  urged 
that  their  only  chance  was  to  run  past  the  frigate, 
receive  her  fire,  and  take  their  chances  in  a  race  to 
windward.  Captain  Coggeshall,  however,  had  good 
reason  to  believe  that  the  David  Porter  would  be 
crippled  by  the  frigate's  broadside,  so  he  gave  orders 
to  get  the  square  sail  and  studding  sails  ready  to 
run  up  at  the  same  moment. 

When  all  was  ready  the  helm  was  put  up,  the 
square  sail  hoisted,  and  in  an  incredibly  short  time 
the  privateer  had  become  a  square-rigged  craft  and 
was  scudding  before  the  wind  like  a  cloud.  The  frig- 
ate's people  apparently  did  not  for  a  moment  sup- 
pose that  the  privateer  would  attempt  a  run  before 
the  wind,  and  were  taken  somewhat  by  surprise  in 
the  schooner's  sudden  display  of  square  sail,  and 
thereby  allowed  her  to  gain  a  mile  at  the  beginning 
of  the  chase.  As  the  British  skipper  realized  the 
nature  of  the  maneuver  he  bent  on  his  studding 
sails,  and  in  five  minutes  had  settled  down  to  a  de- 
termined chase.  With  a  view  of  increasing  the 
speed  of  his  vessel,  Captain  Coggeshall  ordered  holes 
to  be  bored  in  all  the  water  casks  except  four,  and 
the  water  pumped  into  buckets  and  thrown  against 
the  sails  so  that  the  canvas  would  hold  the  wind  bet- 
ter. Besides  this  the  sand  ballast  was  thrown  over- 
board, and,  thus  lightened,  the  David  Porter  began  to 
draw  away  from  the  enemy,  so  that  by  noon  she  was 
eight  or  ten  miles  in  the  lead,  and  by  four  in  the 
afternoon  the  frigate  was  a  mere  speck  on  the 

That  evening,  when  the  enemy  had  been  left 
safely  out  of  sight,  Captain  Coggeshall  examined 
the  condition  of  his  ship  and  found  that  he  was  in 
a  critical  situation.  Instead  of  leaving  four  casks 
filled  with  water  the  carpenter,  in  the  confusion  of 
the  moment,  had  left  only  two,  and  as  the  wind 

1814.  RARE  GOOD  FORTUNE.  345 

began  to  freshen  Captain  Coggeshall  found  that  it 
was  unsafe — his  schooner  being  relieved  of  her  bal- 
last— to  haul  upon  the  wind.  The  position  of  the 
privateer  was  indeed  precarious.  Wide  off  to  sea 
in  the  Bay  of  Biscay,  with  scarcely  ballast  enough 
to  stand  upon  her  bottom,  and  having  aboard  only 
two  casks  of  water  and  a  few  loaves  of  soft  bread 
with  which  to  feed  thirty-five  men,  Captain  Cogge- 
shall found  himself  confronted  by  grave  dangers. 

Undecided  as  to  what  immediate  steps  to  take, 
and  hoping  for  some  favorable  turn  in  the  wheel 
of  fortune,  he  spent  that  night  in  restless  anxiety. 
The  wind  continued  light,  and  toward  morning, 
March  16th,  it  was  almost  calm.  As  day  began  to 
dawn  the  lookout  reported  a  sail,  and  shortly  after- 
ward another,  and  another.  And  by  the  time  the 
sun  had  cleared  the  mists  away  Captain  Coggeshall 
found  himself  in  the  presence  of  a  small  fleet  of  mer- 
chantmen. Had  these  vessels  come  to  the  privateer 
in  answer  to  an  appeal  to  Heaven  they  could  not 
have  surprised  the  sorely  distressed  Americans  more 
nor  have  carried  greater  joy  to  their  hearts.  So 
quietly  had  the  fleet  approached,  under  cover  of 
night,  that  the  Americans  could  scarcely  believe 
their  eyes  when  day  broke.  In  an  instant  all  was 
bustle,  haste,  and  exhilaration  aboard  the  privateer, 
and  she  lost  no  time  in  running  alongside  a  merchant 
brig  and  capturing  her.  Captain  Coggeshall  then 
learned  that  the  vessels  were  a  part  of  a  fleet  bound 
for  St.  Sebastian,  laden  with  provisions  for  the  Brit- 
ish army,  and  that  they  had  become  separated  from 
their  convoy,  a  frigate  and  a  sloop  of  war,  only  a 
few  days  before. 

After  taking  possession  of  the  brig,  which  was 
laden  principally  with  provisions,  Captain  Cogge- 
shall entered  into  an  agreement  with  her  master  by 
which  the  latter  was  to  assist,  with  his  boats  and 
men,  in  transporting  his  cargo  to  the  schooner,  after 
which  he  was  to  go  free  with  his  brig.  The  English- 


man  reluctantly  consented,  and  in  two  hours  the 
united  crews  had  placed  enough  provisions  aboard 
the  David  Porter  to  keep  her  at  sea  three  months. 
Speaking  with  the  fervor  of  a  starving  man  behold- 
ing the  good  things  of  life,  Captain  Coggeshall 
quaintly  describes  the  occurrence  as  follows :  "  His 
cabin  was  filled  with  bags  of  hard  biscuit,  the  staff  of 
life,  which  we  took  first,  and  then  got  a  fine  supply  of 
butter,  hams,  cheese,  potatoes,  porter,  etc.,  and  last, 
though  not  least,  six  casks  of  fresh  water.  After 
this  was  done  the  captain  asked  me  if  I  would  make 
him  a  present  of  the  brig  and  the  residue  of  the 
cargo  for  his  own  private  account,  to  which  I  will- 
ingly agreed,  in  consideration  of  the  assistance  I  had 
received  from  him  and  his  men.  I  showed  him  my 
commission  from  the  Government  of  the  United 
States  authorizing  me  to  take,  burn,  sink,  or  destroy 
our  common  enemy,  and  satisfied  him  that  he  was  a 
lawful  prize  to  my  vessel.  I  then  gave  him  a  certifi- 
cate stating  that  though  his  brig  was  a  lawful  prize, 
I  voluntarily  gave  her  to  him  as  a  present.  This,  of 
course,  was  only  a  piece  of  tomfoolery,  but  it  pleased 
the  captain,  and  we  parted  good  friends." 

With  as  little  delay  as  possible  Captain  Cogge- 
shall then  hastened  after  other  vessels  in  the  fleet, 
which  were  making  off  in  many  directions.  The  light 
wind  prevailing  at  the  time  did  not  enable  them 
to  get  very  far,  and  in  a  short  time  the  David  Porter 
had  seized  a  ship  and  two  brigs  which  had  been  a 
mile  or  two  off  her  lee  beam.  The  same  arrange- 
ments relative  to  transferring  cargo  to  the  priva- 
teer as  had  been  made  with  the  first  brig  were  made 
with  the  masters  of  these  vessels,  and  in  a  short 
time  the  David  Porter  was  nearly  filled  with  a  valu- 
able assortment  of  goods,  consisting  principally  of 
provisions,  officers'  and  soldiers'  uniforms,  cocked 
hats,  epaulets,  small  arms,  instruments  of  music, 
cloths,  and  general  merchandise. 

While  engaged  in  this  agreeable  occupation  a 

1814.  A  MASTERLY  RETREAT.  34? 

fresh  breeze  sprang  up  from  the  southwest,  and 
shortly  afterward  it  came  on  dark  and  rainy, 
which  made  it  difficult  to  continue  the  work  of  trans- 
porting goods  to  the  privateer.  At  five  o'clock  a  sail 
was  reported  to  windward,  and  going  aloft  with  a 
glass  Captain  Ooggeshall  soon  recognized  her,  from 
her  carrying  a  white  bleached  jib,  while  all  her  other 
sails  were  of  a  dark  color,  as  being  the  same  frig- 
ate that  had  chased  him  only  a  few  days  before. 
This  time,  however,  circumstances  were  more  favor- 
able to  the  privateer.  The  schooner  was  in  good 
trim,  the  men  well  fed,  and  with  a  prospect  of  large 
dividends  they  worked  with  a  will.  Furthermore,  on- 
coming night  gave  the  schooner  every  chance  for  es- 
cape. Coming  rapidly  down  the  frigate  approached 
within  five  or  six  miles,  when  Captain  Cogge- 
shall  ran  near  his  prizes  and  ordered  them  all  to 
hoist  lanterns.  Strange  to  say  not  one  of  the  British 
masters  had  discovered  the  frigate,  and  they  obeyed 
the  order,  little  thinking  that  they  were  inviting  a 
broadside  from  English  guns  into  their  own  sides, 
or  were  materially  assisting  in  the  escape  of  the 
Yankee  skipper.  But  this  was  just  what  they  did. 

Quickly  extinguishing  all  his  lights,  Captain 
Coggeshall  quietly  drew  away  in  the  night,  and  was 
soon  speeding  off  in  another  direction,  while  the  lum- 
bering frigate,  observing  the  group  of  lights,  made 
directly  for  them.  "  Yery  soon  after  this,"  remarked 
Captain  Coggeshall,  "  I  heard  the  frigate  firing  at 
her  unfortunate  countrymen,  while  we  were  partak- 
ing of  an  excellent  supper  at  their  expense."  Two 
days  later  the  David  Porter  was  chased  by  a  frigate 
and  a  brig  of  war,  but  had  little  difficulty  in  making 
her  escape.  It  may  here  be  remarked  that  the  cap- 
tain of  the  David  Porter's  long  torn  was  a  colored 
man.  This  was  the  only  gun  on  which  Captain  Cogge- 
shall placed  the  slightest  dependence.  "My  only 
dependence,"  he  wrote,  "was  on  my  18-pounder, 
mounted  amidships  on  a  pivot."  For  this  gun  he 



selected  ten  of  the  largest  and  strongest  men  of  his 
crew.  Philip,  the  colored  captain  of  this  gun,  was 
a  huge  man,  over  six  feet  high,  and  a  general 


After  running  the  frigate  and  the  brig  of  war 
out  of  sight,  Captain  Coggeshall  decided  to  land  at 
Tile  d'Yeu,  a  small  island  about  thirty  miles  from 
St.  Gilles,  on  the  west  coast  of  France,  and  send 
his  ship  home  in  charge  of  his  first  officer,  Samuel 
Nichols,  assisted  by  the  second  officer,  Charles 
Coggeshall.  This  was  done  on  March  24,  1814,  and 
leaving  her  commander  at  this  place  the  David  Porter 
turned  her  head  westward.  Capturing  several  Brit- 
ish merchantmen  on  the  passage  over,  this  schooner 
arrived  safely  at  Gloucester,  where  her  ten  prisoners 
were  landed,  the  owners  of  the  privateer  receiving 
one  thousand  dollars  from  the  Government  as 
bounty  for  them.  This  voyage  of  the  David  Porter 
brought  her  owners  some  twenty  thousand  dollars, 
and  shortly  after  her  arrival  in  Boston  she  was  sold 
for  ten  thousand  dollars. 

Her  new  owners  sent  her  to  sea,  under  the  com- 
mand of  Captain  J.  Fish,  in  the  summer  of  1814, 
when  she  took  several  valuable  merchantmen. 
Among  them  were  the  brig  Mars,  from  Mogador, 
which  was  divested  of  the  most  valuable  part  of  her 
cargo  and  ordered  to  America;  the  brig  Cornwallis, 
divested  and  converted  into  a  cartel;  the  6-gun  ship 
Tester,  from  Bio  Janeiro  for  England,  divested  and 
ordered  in;  and  the  brig  Horatio,  from  and  for  the 
same  places,  laden  with  hides  and  tallow,  which  was 
ransomed  for  a  bill  of  exchange  on  England  amount- 
ing to  twenty  thousand  dollars.  In  this  cruise  the 
David  Porter  was  chased  nine  hundred  and  forty 
miles  by  a  British  frigate  and  two  sloops  of  war,  but 
she  finally  eluded  them  and  arrived  safely  in  New 
York,  September,  1814. 

On  the  following  December  1st  the  David  Porter 
again  got  to  sea,  and  in  a  cruise  of  fifteen  days  took 

1814-1815.       THE  DAVID  PORTER'S  RICH  PRIZES.  349 

the  brig  Hiram,  of  Liverpool,  with  a  cargo  valued  at 
one  hundred  thousand  dollars,  the  Ann  Dorothy,  an 
American  vessel  in  the  possession  of  the  enemy, 
and  two  other  valuable  brigs.  In  January,  1815, 
this  privateer  sailed  on  her  last  cruise,  in  which 
she  appeared  off  the  Western  Isles,  Portugal,  the 
Madeiras,  the  Canaries,  Brazil,  Cayenne,  Surinam, 
and  through  the  West  Indies,  returning  to  port  in 
eighty  days  from  the  time  of  sailing.  In  this  pro- 
tracted search  for  British  merchantmen  the  priva- 
teer made  only  three  prizes:  the  3-masted  schooner 
George,  which,  being  of  little  value,  was  released, 
the  coppered  brig  Flying  Fish,  with  a  cargo  worth 
two  hundred  thousand  dollars,  which  was  sent  into 
New  Bedford;  and  the  brig  Legal  Tender,  the  last 
being  recaptured  March  7,  1815,  by  the  74-gun  ship 
of  the  line  Spencer. 

In  her  entire  career  during  this  war  the  David 
Porter  made  fifteen  prizes. 



AFTER  the  departure  of  the  David  Porter  for 
America,  Captain  Coggeshall  remained  several 
months  in  France  attending  to  the  interests  of  his 
employers.  At  this  time,  April,  1814,  owing  to  the 
unsettled  political  condition  of  the  empire  and  the 
near  approach  of  the  English  army,  there  was 
scarcely  an  American  vessel  in  French  waters.  The 
privateer  schooner  Kemp,  Captain  Jacobs,  of  Balti- 
more, was  at  Nantes,  and  the  schooners  lAon  and 
Spencer  were  at  P  Orient,  which  about  completes  the 
list.  The  Lion,  sometimes  known  as  Lyon,  was  a 
fast  vessel  out  of  Salem,  mounting  twenty-two  guns 
and  commanded  by  Captain  T.  Cloutman,  and  others 
at  different  times.  In  her  last  cruise  she  had  taken 
fifteen  prizes,  many  of  which  were  destroyed  at  sea, 
and  the  cargoes,  which  realized  four  hundred  thou- 
sand dollars,  had  been  sent  into  POrient.  The 
Spencer  carried  only  nine  guns  and  was  commanded 
by  Captain  G.  Moore,  of  Philadelphia.  She  had 
taken  two  of  the  enemy's  schooners  laden  with  wine. 

There  were  a  number  of  American  gentlemen, 
commanders  of  privateers,  supercargoes,  etc.,  in 
France  at  this  time,  who  had  become  well  ac- 
quainted with  each  other,  and  when  it  was  known 
that  such  an  able  commander  as  Coggeshall  was 
there  without  a  command  they  soon  arranged  to  se- 
cure a  fast-sailing  vessel  for  him  for  the  purpose  of 
operating  against  British  commerce.  The  Leo,  a  fine 


1814.  FITTING  OUT  THE  LEO  IN  TRANCE.  351 

vessel  of  three  hundred  and  twenty  tons,  built  in 
Baltimore,  then  lying  at  FOrient,  was  selected.  She 
was  owned  by  Thomas  Lewis,  an  American  residing 
in  Bordeaux.  This  privateer,  earlier  in  the  war, 
while  under  the  command  of  Captain  J.  Hewes,  had 
taken  fifteen  prizes,  ten  of  which  had  been  destroyed, 
three  were  ransomed  for  sixty  thousand  dollars,  and 
one,  the  brig  Alexander,  was  cast  away  near  Ferrol 
while  the  privateer  was  entering  that  port  in  a  gale. 
One  of  her  prizes  was  an  East  Indiaman  valued  at 
two  million  dollars.  Sixty  thousand  dollars  in 
specie  were  taken  out  of  the  Indiaman  and  she  was 
sent  to  America  in  charge  of  a  prize  crew,  but  was 
recaptured  by  an  English  sloop  of  war  before  gain- 
ing port.  On  her  first  passage  to  Prance  the  Leo 
captured  the  brig  Pomona,  from  Lisbon  for  New- 
foundland, carrying  eight  12-pounders.  She  was 
sent  into  Belfast,  Maine.  In  the  earlier  part  of  the 
war  Captain  Hewes  commanded  the  privateer 
Bunker  Hill,  a  schooner  of  six  guns,  which  made  six 
prizes.  She  was  captured  while  off  our  coast, 
August  21, 1812,  by  the  British  frigate  Bclvidera.  As 
this  occurred  shortly  after  the  narrow  escape  of  this 
frigate  from  Captain  Kodgers1  squadron,  the  com- 
mander of  the  Belvidera,  Captain  Richard  Byron,  un- 
doubtedly congratulated  himself  on  his  lucky  cap- 
ture. A  second  Bunker  Hill  was  launched  toward  the 
close  of  the  war. 

On  November  2,  1814,  the  Leo  was  purchased  by 
an  association  of  Americans  abroad  and  under  the 
sanction  of  William  H.  Crawford,  the  American 
minister  to  Prance,  was  commissioned  as  a  priva- 
teer. It  was  proposed  that  the  Leo  should  first  make 
a  short  cruise  in  search  of  prizes  and  then  proceed 
to  Charleston,  South  Carolina,  for  a  cargo  of  cotton. 
At  this  time  there  were  a  large  number  of  American 
officers  and  seamen  in  several  of  the  western  ports 
of  Prance  supported  by  our  Government.  They  were, 
as  a  rule,  exchanged  prisoners  who  had  been  de- 


tained  in  port  by  the  failure  of  their  ships  to  get  to 
sea,  and  as  their  terms  of  enlistment  had  not  expired 
they  continued  to  draw  pay  from  the  Government. 
From  these  Captain  Coggeshall  was  able  to  select 
a  most  desirable  complement  of  officers  and  men. 
His  first  and  second  officers  were  Pierre  G.  Depey- 
ster  and  Henry  Allen.  Azor  O.  Lewis,  a  brother  of 
the  former  owner  of  the  Leo,  was  taken  as  one  of  the 
prize  masters.  These,  together  with  eighty-six  petty 
officers  and  seamen,  constituted  the  privateer's  com- 

So  much  influence  was  exerted  over  the  Govern- 
ment of  Louis  XVIII  by  England  that  the  Ameri- 
cans were  fearful  of  being  detained  in  port  on  some 
technicality,  and  for  this  reason  every  exertion  was 
made  to  hasten  the  Leo's  departure.  Captain  Cogge- 
shall found  that  her  hull  was  in  fairly  good  condi- 
tion, but  that  her  sails  and  rigging  were  much  out  of 
repair.  By  working  night  and  day,  however,  he  was 
ready  for  sea  with  provisions  enough  for  fifty  days 
by  November  6th,  and  dropped  down  near  the  mouth 
of  the  outer  harbor.  How  well  founded  were  the 
fears  of  the  Americans  of  detention  in  port  will  be 
seen  by  the  orders  Captain  Coggeshall  now  received 
from  the  local  authorities,  which  were  to  return  to 
his  anchorage  and  disarm  his  vessel.  Waiting  on  the 
commanding  officer  of  the  port  the  American  was 
told  that  he  must  take  out  all  of  his  firearms  and 
guns  except  one,  but  the  commandant  jokingly 
added  that  this  gun  would  be  sufficient  to  take  a 
dozen  English  vessels  before  reaching  Charleston. 
Every  gun  aboard,  accordingly,  was  removed  except- 
ing the  long  brass  12-pounder  amidships.  In  the 
night,  however,  Captain  Coggeshall  managed  to 
smuggle  aboard  some  twenty  or  thirty  muskets,  and 
with  this  armament  he  sailed  on  November  8th  and 
steered  for  the  chops  of  the  British  Channel. 

It  was  soon  found  that  the  12-pounder  was  nearly 
useless  in  action,  so  that  the  Americans  were  obliged 

1814.  OFF  THE  ROOK  OF  LISBON".  353 

to  depend  almost  entirely  upon  boarding.  This  in 
rough  weather  was  a  dangerous  operation,  as  the 
delicately  built  Baltimore  craft  in  all  probability 
would  have  her  sides  crushed  in  should  she  come  in 
contact  with  a  heavy  English  merchant  ship.  It  was 
this  circumstance  that  compelled  Captain  Cogge- 
shall, when  only  a  few  days  out,  to  allow  a  large  mer- 
chantman to  escape  him.  At  six  o'clock  on  the  morn- 
ing of  November  13th,  while  near  the  Scilly  Islands, 
the  Leo  discovered  a  brig  to  leeward,  and  after  giv- 
ing her  a  shot  induced  her  to  surrender.  She  was 
from  Leghorn  bound  up  the  Channel.  Taking  her 
people  into  the  Leo  Captain  Coggeshall  placed  a  prize 
crew  aboard,  and  ordered  the  brig  to  make  for 

Down  to  this  time  the  Leo  had  been  experiencing 
very  heavy  weather,  which,  together  with  the  pecul- 
iar condition  of  her  armament,  induced  her  com- 
mander to  change  his  cruising  ground,  and  heading 
southward  he  appeared  off  the  coast  of  Spain.  On 
November  18th  the  Leo  was  chased  by  a  brig  of  war. 
At  eight  o'clock  in  the  evening  she  passed  a  mer- 
chant brig,  but  Captain  Coggeshall  did  not  deem  it 
prudent  to  stop,  as  the  cruiser  was  still  in  hot  pur- 
suit of  him.  By  dawn  of  the  following  day  all  trace 
of  the  war  brig  had  been  lost.  At  7  A.  M.  chase  was 
given  to  a  sail  off  the  weather  bow.  Three  hours 
later  she  was  captured,  and  was  found  to  be  an  Eng- 
lish cutter,  from  Teneriffe  for  London,  laden  with 
wine.  Taking  out  twenty  quarter  casks  of  wine, 
together  with  her  crew  and  some  rigging,  Captain 
Coggeshall  caused  her  to  be  scuttled. 

On  the  morning  of  the  following  day  the  Leo 
made  a  sail  to  windward,  and  after  four  hours  of 
maneuvering  to  get  a  favorable  position  he  discov- 
ered her  to  be  an  English  brig  of  war,  armed  with 
carronades,  or  guns  having  a  short  range.  Being  to 
windward,  and  having  the  superiority  of  sailing,  Cap- 
tain Coggeshall  kept  just  within  long  range  of  the 

§54:  AN  ESCAPE  FROM  GIBRALTAR.  1814. 

enemy  and  then  indulged  in  some  target  practice 
with  his  long  torn.  This  was  kept  up  for  about  an 
hour,  when  the  Leo  hauled  off,  and  in  time  the 
stranger  disappeared  below  the  horizon.  The  Eng- 
lishmen fired  some  thirty  or  forty  shots  at  the  au- 
dacious privateer,  most  of  them  falling  short,  a  few 
going  over,  and  only  one  hitting  the  Leo.  That  shot 
passed  through  the  bends  amidships  and  lodged  in 
the  hold.  The  next  day  the  Leo  fell  in  with  an  Eng- 
lish frigate,  which  endeavored  to  decoy  the  Ameri- 
can under  her  guns  by  showing  Portuguese  colors; 
but  the  Yankees  were  not  so  easily  deceived,  and, 
showing  the  Stars  and  Stripes,  Captain  Ooggeshall 
hauled  close  to  the  wind  and  soon  ran  the  frigate 
out  of  sight. 

During  the  night  the  weather  was  squally.  Early 
in  the  morning  an  English  schooner,  from  Malaga 
bound  for  Dublin,  with  a  cargo  of  grapes,  was  cap- 
tured and  sent  to  the  United  States  in  charge  of  a 
prize  crew.  In  the  next  two  days  the  Leo  spoke  sev- 
eral neutral  vessels,  and  on  the  afternoon  of  the 
24th  was  chased  by  two  frigates,  but  easily  out- 
sailed them.  At  three  o'clock  on  the  afternoon  of 
the  25th  the  Leo  chased  a  sail,  but  in  half  an  hour 
Captain  Coggeshall  discovered  her  to  be  a  frigate, 
when  he  hauled  upon  the  wind.  The  frigate  fired  a 
gun  and  showed  American  colors,  to  which  the  priva- 
teer responded  with  the  United  States  ensign,  but 
after  a  few  minutes  this  was  replaced  by  the  English 
colors.  Upon  seeing  this  the  frigate  fired  three  or 
four  shots,  but  finding  that  they  fell  short  desisted. 
In  the  night  Captain  Coggeshall  lost  sight  of  the 

On  November  26th  the  Leo  captured  an  English 
ship,  from  Palermo  for  London,  laden  with  brim- 
stone, rags,  mats,  etc.,  which  was  ordered  to  the 
United  States  after  her  crew  of  twenty  men  had 
been  taken  out.  At  one  o'clock  on  the  afternoon  of 
December  1st,  while  the  Leo  was  off  the  Kock  of 

1814  CAPTURE  OF  THE  LEO.  355 

Lisbon,  a  large  frigate  was  discovered  making  for 
her  under  a  press  of  sail.  The  wind  at  this  juncture 
was  blowing  strong  from  the  north-northwest,  and 
at  times  came  on  in  squalls.  Captain  Ooggeshall 
steered  westward  so  as  to  weather  the  frigate,  but 
unfortunately  at  2  p.  M.  the  Leo  gave  a  sudden  lurch, 
which  carried  away  her  foremast  about  a  third  below 
its  head,  and  a  few  minutes  later  it  broke  again, 
close  by  the  board.  While  in  this  unfortunate  con- 
dition Captain  Coggeshall  had  the  mortification  of 
seeing  an  English  packet — probably  with  a  large 
amount  of  specie  aboard — pass  within  pistol  shot  of 
him.  As  night  was  fast  coming  on,  and  the  frigate 
still  was  some  miles  distant,  Captain  Coggeshall  en- 
tertained great  hopes  of  being  able  to  make  Lisbon 
before  morning.  Accordingly  he  rigged  a  jury  fore- 
mast and  made  good  progress  until  near  daylight, 
when  it  became  almost  calm,  at  which  time  the  Leo 
was  in  sight  of  the  Eock  of  Lisbon.  The  Americans 
then  resorted  to  towing  until  1  p.  M.,  when  a  light 
breeze  carried  them  to  the  mouth  of  the  Tagus  and 
a  Lisbon  pilot  was  taken  aboard.  But  unfortunate- 
ly the  ebb  tide  began  to  run,  and  with  it  a  British 
frigate  came  out  of  the  Tagus  and  in  a  few  minutes 
had  the  privateer  under  her  guns,  compelling  the 
American  to  surrender.  She  was  the  38-gun  frigate 
Grramcus,  Captain  W.  P.  Wise. 

Captain  Coggeshall,  his  officers,  and  men  were 
taken  aboard  the  frigate  and  carried  to  Gibraltar. 
The  Americans  were  received  by  the  British  with 
great  kindness.  Captain  Coggeshall  said:  "  Captain 
Wise  was  a  fine,  gentlemanly  man,  and  always 
treated  me  and  my  officers  with  respect  and  kind- 
ness. We  messed  in  the  wardroom.  I  had  a  state- 
room to  myself,  and  was  as  comfortable  and  happy  as 
I  could  be  under  the  circumstances.  I  used  to  dine 
with  Captain  Wise  almost  daily.  He  frequently 
said  to  me:  '  Don't  feel  depressed  by  captivity,  but 
strive  to  forget  that  you  are  a  prisoner,  and  imagine 


that  you  are  only  a  passenger.'  In  the  course  of  con- 
versation he  said  to  me: '  Coggeshall,  you  Americans 
are  a  singular  people  as  respects  seamanship  and 
enterprise.  In  England  we  can  not  build  such  ves- 
sels as  your  Baltimore  clippers.  We  have  no  such 
models,  and  even  if  we  had  them  they  would  be  of 
no  service  to  us,  for  we  never  could  sail  them  as  you 
do.  We  have  now  and  then  taken  some  of  your 
schooners  with  our  fast-sailing  frigates.  They  have 
sometimes  caught  one  of  them  under  their  lee  in  a 
heavy  gale  of  wind  by  outcarrying  them.  Then, 
again,  we  have  taken  a  few  with  our  boats  in  calm 
weather.  We  are  afraid  of  their  long  inasts  and 
heavy  spars,  and  soon  cut  down  and  reduce  them  to 
our  standard.  We  strengthen  them,  put  up  bulk- 
heads, etc.,  after  which  they  lose  their  sailing  quali- 
ties and  are  of  no  further  service  as  cruising  vessels.' 
He  also  remarked  that  the  famous  privateer  True 
Blooded  Yankee,  which  had  done  them  so  much  mis- 
chief, once  belonged  to  their  navy;  that  they  cap- 
tured her  from  the  French;  that  she  afterward  was 
retaken,  and  finally  got  into  the  hands  of  the  Ameri- 
cans; that  she  then  outsailed  everything  and  that 
none  of  their  cruisers  could  touch  her,  and  concluded 
by  adding  that  we  were  a  most  ingenious  people." 

Captain  Wise,  in  friendly  conversation  with  Cap- 
tain Coggeshall,  revealed  a  little  inside  history  of 
American  privateers  as  seen  from  the  enemy's  stand- 
point, which  is  as  amusing  as  it  is  gratifying.  He 
told  how  the  74-gun  ship  of  the  line  Superb  was 
cruising  off  the  mouth  of  the  Garonne  one  morning, 
when  the  fog  lifted  and  revealed  one  of  the  Ameri- 
can privateer  schooners  as  snug  as  a  bug  in  a  rug 
under  her  guns.  No  one  aboard  the  huge  war  ship 
for  a  moment  anticipated  that  the  little  craft,  so 
completely  at  their  mercy,  would  attempt  to  escape, 
and  so  no  preparations  were  made  to  clear  the  guns. 
The  quick  eye  of  the  Yankee  skipper,  however,  noted 
the  overconfidence  of  the  English,  and  suddenly  mak- 

1814.  GIVING  THE  GUARD  THE  SLIP.  357 

ing  sail,  he  was  soon  beyond  the  range  of  the  war 
ship's  broadside.  The  English,  of  course,  made  sail 
in  chase,  but  their  ship  got  into  the  wind  and  made 
stern  board — so  that,  before  they  could  get  sufficient 
steerageway  to  tack  after  the  schooner,  the  little 
craft  had  made  three  or  four  tacks  right  in  the 
wind's  eye,  and  was  soon  out  of  gunshot  and  escaped. 
It  is  a  singular  circumstance  that  Captain  Oogge- 
shalPs  father  was  a  first  cousin  of  Captain  Isaac 
Hull,  the  famous  commander  of  the  Constitution 
when  she  fought  the  Ghierrierc,  while  the  captain  of 
the  defeated  frigate,  Richard  Dacres,  was  a  cousin 
of  Captain  Wise. 

Arriving  at  Gibraltar,  Captain  Coggeshall,  with 
his  first  and  second  officers,  Pierre  G.  Depeyster  and 
Henry  Allen,  was  taken  to  the  Admiralty  office  to 
undergo  an  examination  preparatory  to  the  con- 
demnation of  the  Leo  by  the  authorities.  On  the 
first  day,  the  American  officers  were  landed  without 
a  guard,  as  they  gave  their  promise  not  to  attempt 
to  escape.  On  the  second  day,  however,  the  Ameri- 
cans refused  to  give  the  promise,  so  that  a  lieutenant, 
a  sergeant,  and  four  marines  were  detailed  to  guard 
them.  It  is  needless  to  say  that  the  privateersmen 
had  made  up  their  minds  to  escape  at  the  first  op- 
portunity, and  they  secreted  money  about  their  per- 
sons to  aid  them  in  the  attempt. 

Arriving  at  the  Admiralty  office,  Captain  Cogge- 
shall took  a  seat  in  the  court  room,  waiting  for  the 
examination  to  recommence.  His  attention  was 
soon  attracted  by  Mr.  Allen,  who  was  standing  in  the 
doorway  beckoning  to  him.  Going  to  the  door,  it 
was  found  that  the  British  lieutenant  had  left  his 
post.  Asking  the  sergeant  to  take  a  glass  of  wine  in 
a  neighboring  shop,  Captain  Coggeshall  led  the  way 
into  the  dingy  place,  followed  by  the  sergeant  and 
two  American  prisoners.  While  the  sergeant  was 
looking  in  another  direction,  Captain  Coggeshall 
slipped  out,  passed  quickly  over  a  little  park,  turned 

358  AN  ESCAPE  FROM  GIBRALTAR.  1814-1815. 

a  corner,  and  made  his  way  to  the  Land  Port  Gate  in 
the  northwest  extremity  of  the  town.  Although  he 
had  given  the  sergeant  the  slip,  our  privateersman 
was  still  far  from  being  safe.  He  was  within  the 
walls  of  Gibraltar,  each  gate  of  which  was  strongly 
guarded.  His  dress  consisted  of  a  blue  coat,  black 
stock,  and  black  cockade,  with  an  eagle  in  the  center. 
By  removing  the  eagle  he  presented  the  appearance 
of  an  English  naval  officer;  and  relying  on  this  sem- 
blance, he  gave  the  sentinel  a  severe  glance,  who 
saluted  respectfully,  and  in  another  moment  the 
Yankee  was  without  the  walls. 

At  the  mole  he  engaged  a  boatman,  who  took  him 
aboard  a  Norwegian  galiot.  To  the  master  of  this 
vessel  the  privateersman  made  known  his  escape 
and  begged  for  concealment.  This  was  generously 
granted,  and  a  few  minutes  later  the  American  ap- 
peared on  deck  dressed  in  Norwegian  costume  and 
with  a  large  pipe  in  his  mouth.  From  this  vessel 
Captain  Coggeshall  went  aboard  a  smuggling  craft, 
under  cover  of  night,  and  in  it  made  his  way  to 
Algeciras,  on  the  west  side  of  Gibraltar  Bay,  where 
for  three  days  he  remained  concealed  in  the  home  of 
the  leader  of  the  smugglers.  From  this  place  Cap- 
tain Coggeshall  gradually  made  his  way  to  Lisbon, 
and  thence  in  the  Portuguese  brig  Tres  Ifermanos  to 
New  York,  arriving  there  May  9,  1815.  Mr.  Depey- 
ster  and  Mr.  Allen  were  not  as  fortunate  in  escap- 
ing. They  gave  the  sergeant  the  slip  as  Captain 
Coggeshall  had  done,  but  on  reaching  the  mole  they 
were  recaptured. 



As  nearly  all  the  Americans  taken  prisoners  on 
the  high  seas  by  the  British  in  this  war  were  priva- 
teersmen,  an  extended  notice  of  their  treatment  will 
be  necessary.  Only  a  few  of  our  man-of-warsmen 
were  captured,  and  in  most  cases  they  were  speedily 
exchanged.  At  Melville  Island,  near  Halifax,  there 
were,  in  1813,  some  twelve  hundred  American 
sailors,  the  majority  of  them  taken  in  privateers. 
This  island  is  described  as  being  "  a  little  above  the 
surface  of  the  water,  and  from  its  low  situation  is 
generally  very  unhealthy.  Its  circumference  is 
about  one  thousand  six  hundred  feet.  On  this  nau- 
seous spot  is  situated  a  building  of  two  stories,  one 
hundred  and  thirty  feet  in  length  by  forty  broad, 
and  of  the  upper  room  thirty  feet  is  set  apart  for 
the  sick.  The  remainder  of  this  apartment  now  con- 
tains one  hundred  and  eighty  American  prisoners. 
In  the  lower  room  are  seven  hundred  and  seventy 
more,  cooped  up  to  breathe  the  same  air  and  generate 
diseases  by  this  narrow  confine.  Three  hundred  and 
fifty  more  are  near  this  island  in  a  prison  ship.  In 
this  situation,  under  the  most  rigorous  treatment, 
our  brethren  remain.  ...  To  heighten  the  poignancy 
of  their  reflections,  they  are  told  by  the  British  agent, 
Miller,  *  to  die  and  be  damned,  the  king  has  one  hun- 
dred and  fifty  acres  of  land  to  bury  them  in.7 " 

Many  instances  of  the  petty  tyranny  of  the  offi- 
cials at  this  place  are  given.  On  one  occasion  some 


360  IN  BRITISH  PRISONS.  1812. 

British  officers  were  endeavoring  to  persuade  an 
American  lad  to  enter  their  navy.  An  officer  of  the 
American  privateer  Torktown,  also  a  prisoner,  hap- 
pened to  be  standing  by  and  overheard  the  conver- 
sation. He  said,  in  an  undertone,  "  Joe,  don't  go." 
The  boy  didn't  go,  but  for  his  "  impertinence  "  in  the 
matter  the  officer  of  the  YorJctown  was  placed  in  the 
"  black  hole  "  on  short  allowance  for  ten  days. 

No  less  unfeeling  were  the  British  prison  officials 
at  Jamaica  and  Barbadoes.  At  the  former  place  an 
American  prisoner  records,  under  date  of  December 
13, 1812:  "  I  wrote  you  on  the  8th  inst.  informing  you 
of  my  being  captured  by  the  sloop  of  war  Fawn,  Cap- 
tain Fellows,  about  twenty  miles  to  northeast  of 
Cape  Tiberon,  and  carried  to  Jamaica,  where  we  were 
all  immediately  sent  to  prison,  and  we  were  treated 
more  like  brutes  than  human  beings.  Our  allow- 
ance is  half  a  pound  of  horse  meat,  a  pound  and  a 
half  of  bread  that  had  been  condemned,  being  more 
of  worms  than  bread,  and  one  gill  of  beans.  That 
is  all  our  allowance  for  twenty-four  hours!  When 
I  was  taken  I  had  all  my  charts,  quadrant,  and 
clothes  taken  from  me,  and  was  not  allowed  even 
to  ask  for  them.  There  are  now  in  this  prison  ship 
four  hundred  and  fifty-two  prisoners  and  more  arriv- 
ing daily.  It  is  reported  to-day  that  we  are  all  to  be 
sent  to  England  by  the  fleet  which  is  to  sail  in  six 
days."  Another  correspondent  writes  that  the  Ja- 
maica prison  ships  are  "  infested  with  rats,  centi- 
pedes, snakes,  roaches,  and  lizards." 

From  the  Norfolk  Herald  we  have  the  following: 
"A  young  man  by  the  name  of  Thomas  King,  a 
native  of  Charleston,  South  Carolina,  and  formerly 
a  seaman  in  the  United  States  brig  Vixen,  having 
been  paroled  at  Jamaica,  was  returning  home  in  the 
cartel  Relecca  Sims,  when  he  was  impressed  on  board 
the  74-gun  ship  Poictiers,  as  she  was  entering  the 
Delaware,  under  the  pretext  of  his  being  an  Eng- 
lishman. The  Poictiers  soon  afterward  was  ordered 

1813.  A  PERILOUS  ESCAPE.  361 

to  Bermuda,  where,  having  arrived,  young  King 
was  transferred  to  the  64-gun  ship  Ruly.  Having 
determined  to  attempt  his  escape  at  the  first  oppor- 
tunity that  offered,  he  purchased  of  one  of  his  mess- 
mates a  small  pocket  compass,  which  he  always  car- 
ried about  him.  King  kept  his  eye  on  a  fine,  large 
sailing  boat  belonging  to  the  ship,  which  commonly 
was  kept  alongside.  On  Sunday  of  July  25,  1813, 
some  of  the  officers  had  taken  this  boat  out  sailing 
and  returned  alongside  in  the  dusk  of  the  evening, 
where  she  remained  some  time  with  her  masts,  sails, 
rudder,  etc.,  all  standing.  This  youthful  adventurer, 
having  secured  two  loaves  of  bread  and  some  water, 
got  into  the  boat,  cast  off  the  fast,  and  drifted  along 
with  the  tide  till  he  had  got  some  distance  off,  when 
he  hoisted  sail  and  took  a  very  unceremonious  leave 
of  the  Ruby  and  Bermuda.  Thus  in  an  open  boat,  with 
scarce  provisions  enough  to  last  him  two  days,  he 
committed  himself  to  the  wind  and  waves  to  trav- 
erse an  expanse  of  six  or  seven  hundred  miles. 
When  inclined  to  sleep  he  tied  the  tiller  to  his  arm, 
so  that  if  the  boat  wore  round  it  would  cause  a  sud- 
den jerk  of  the  tiller,  which  would  wake  him  again. 
He  experienced  no  debility  or  sickness  from  the 
scantiness  of  his  meals,  and,  with  fine  weather  near- 
ly the  whole  way,  he  made  a  landing  about  ten  miles 
south  of  Cape  Henry  on  Tuesday,  the  3d  of  August, 
being  a  passage  of  nine  days.  The  boat  is  seven 
tons  burden,  and  if  she  could  be  got  round  here 
would  probably  sell  for  a  hundred  and  fifty  dollars." 
In  a  letter  addressed  to  James  Turner,  the  Brit- 
ish agent  of  prisoners  of  war  at  Port  Royal,  Jamaica, 
the  agents  for  the  American  prisoners — William 
Wescott,  John  McFate,  and  James  Stevens — under 
date  of  March  30, 1813,  wrote: 

"L* Amethyst  c  Prison  Ship. 

"  SIR:  Being  agents  for  prisoners  of  war  at  this 
place,  we  conceive  you  to  be  the  proper  person  to 
.address  in  stating  the  grievances  under  which  we 

362  IN  BRITISH  PRISONS.  1818. 

labor,  relying  on  your  attention  to  discover  and  will- 
ingness to  adopt  those  measures  which  may  be  best 
calculated  to  afford  us  relief.  This  morning  Lieu- 
tenant Dance,  of  the  Fifth  West  India  Kegiment,  ac- 
companied by  a  guard  of  seven  soldiers  with  loaded 
muskets,  came  on  board  this  ship  and  informed  us 
we  must  go  with  him  to  Kingston  to  attend  a  court- 
martial.  Upon  our  replying  that  we  did  not  know 
in  what  manner  we  were  to  be  concerned  in  that 
court,  he  exclaimed,  'You  must  go,  and  if  force  is 
necessary  to  compel  you,  I  am  directed  to  resort  to 
it! 9  Our  hesitation  increasing,  he  went  on  deck,  and 
brought  down  with  him  four  soldiers  with  naked 
bayonets,  himself  and  Lieutenant  Geddes  (the  officer 
of  the  guard)  accompanying  them  with  drawn 
swords.  .  .  .  We  then  asked  Lieutenant  Dance 
whether,  in  the  event  of  our  consenting  to  go,  his 
officers  were  to  escort  us  through  the  streets.  He 
pledged  his  honor  they  should  not,  but  that  ourselves 
should  go  on  one  side  of  the  street  and  they  on  the 
other.  We  then  consented  to  go.  But  imagine  what 
must  have  been  our  chagrin  and  disappointment 
when,  on  arriving  at  Kingston,  the  lieutenant,  disre- 
garding his  promise,  careless  of  our  feelings,  and 
not  respecting  our  character  as  officers — two  of  us 
having  the  honor  to  belong  to  the  United  States 
navy — wantonly  and  ignominiously  marched  us 
through  the  streets  of  the  city  like  malefactors, 
himself  going  before  and  his  soldiers  following  and 
walking  on  either  side  of  us.  In  this  disgraceful 
manner  we  were  deposited  in  the  guardhouse  of  the 

"  In  the  guardhouse  we  remained  from  8.30  A.  M. 
till  1  p.  M.  without  knowing  whether  our  presence 
was  necessary  at  the  court-martial,  without  know- 
ing for  what  purpose  we  were  sent  to  Kingston, 
without  having  any  sustenance  or  refreshment  of 
any  kind,  and  without  being  permitted,  during  our 
confinement,  to  have  any  person  visit  us.  Having 

1813.  INHUMAN  TREATMENT.  363 

confined  us  as  long  as  they  thought  proper,  they  con- 
signed us  to  the  care  of  Lieutenant  Grant,  who 
marched  us  to  the  boat  and  brought  us  to  the  prison 
ship  again.  You  will  perceive,  sir,  that,  having  eaten 
nothing  the  night  before,  we  were  deprived  of  every- 
thing for  the  support  of  nature  from  three  o'clock 
p.  M.,  29th  inst,  till  after  three  o'clock  on  the  30th 
(the  time  we  were  sent  on  board).  But  this  is  the 
least  part  of  our  complaint,  though  we  leave  you  to 
reflect  whether  such  treatment  is  becoming  in  the 
officers  of  one  civilized  nation  at  war  with  another. 
We  are  here  for  no  crime.  The  fortune  of  war  has 
placed  us  in  your  power.  We  have  not  degraded 
ourselves  by  any  indecorous  conduct  since  we  be- 
came your  prisoners.  We  preserve  the  same  routine 
of  duty  here  as  we  did  on  board  our  own  vessels, 
Why,  then,  this  insult— this  wanton  abuse?  Why 
take  the  advantage  of  defenseless  prisoners  for  the 
purpose  of  venting  your  malignity  and  contempt  for 
the  American  nation?  Your  Government  can  never 
approve  such  proceedings;  the  American  most  cer- 
tainly will  not.  Your  Government,  we  are  induced 
to  believe,  are  desirous  of  preserving  those  sacred 
rules  of  justice  and  honor  with  regard  to  prisoners 
of  war  which  they  require  of  ours.  You  will  there- 
fore confer  a  favor  on  us  by  submitting  the  circum- 
stances of  our  case  to  Vice-Admiral  Stirling,  who, 
from  the  kind  regard  he  has  ever  paid  to  the  peti- 
tions and  remonstrances  of  American  prisoners, 
will,  we  trust,  use  his  best  endeavors  toward  amelio- 
rating our  present  unhappy  condition." 

Such  being  the  treatment  of  Americans  in  Brit- 
ish prisons  on  this  side  of  the  Atlantic,  we  feel  no 
surprise  in  discovering  that  they  were  subjected  to 
even  greater  cruelty  on  the  other  side  of  the  ocean. 
At  the  outbreak  of  hostilities  between  the  United 
States  and  Great  Britain,  many  of  the  American 
seamen  who  had  been  impressed  into  English  war 

364:  IN  BRITISH  PRISONS,  1812. 

ships  refused  to  serve,  and  for  this  display  of  patri- 
otism they  were  severely  handled.  When  the  news 
of  the  war  reached  Toulon,  where  the  British  fleet 
had  assembled,  many  of  our  seamen  refused  to  con- 
tinue in  that  service,  upon  which  they  were  thrown 
into  prison  at  Malta. 

Captain  Jeduthan  Upton,  Jr.,  of  Salem,  who  was 
a  prisoner  of  war  in  this  conflict,  said:  "  The  method 
of  ascertaining  whether  these  men  who  refused  to 
serve  on  the  ground  of  being  Americans  was  to 
conduct  the  man  to  prison.  He  was  then  sever.ely 
flogged  for  several  days  successively,  and  if  he  bore 
it  manfully  he  was  given  up  as  an  American.  If 
not,  he  was  kept  on  duty." 

On  December  16,  1812,  the  American  12-gun  pri- 
vateer schooner  Swordfish,  Captain  J.  Evans,  of  Glou- 
cester, got  to  sea  with  a  complement  of  eighty-two 
men  and  boys.  Twelve  days  out  she  was  chased  by 
the  British  frigate  Elephant.  After  a  hard  run  of 
eleven  hours,  during  which  the  privateer  had  thrown 
overboard  ten  of  her  guns,  she  was  captured  and 
sent  to  England.  When  the  surgeon  of  the  Swordfah 
was  returned  to  the  United  States  in  a  cartel,  he 
reported  that  when  he  was  in  Portsmouth  the  74- 
gun  ship  of  the  line  Cornwall  arrived  there  from  a 
foreign  port,  having  on  board  "thirty  impressed 
American  seamen;  that  a  part  of  them  requested  to 
be  considered  as  prisoners  of  war,  and  refused  to 
do  duty;  that  in  consequence  they  were  put  in  irons 
and  ordered  to  be  fed  on  bread  and  water.  The 
British  officer,  suspecting  that  they  had  been  ad- 
vised to  this  step  by  the  surgeon  of  the  Swordfish, 
ordered  him  between  decks;  nor  was  he  again  per- 
mitted his  usual  liberty  till  he  embarked  in  the 
cartel.  We  are  also  furnished  with  the  names  of 
one  hundred  and  thirteen  Americans  who  had  been 
impressed  who  have  been  sent  on  board  the  St. 
Antonio,  prison  ship;  two  of  them  had  been  enslaved 
eighteen  years  in  the  British  service,  and  the  others 

1812.         OFFICERS  AND  SEAMEN  TREATED  ALIKE.         365 

from  a  half  to  fifteen  years.  There  were  about  eight 
hundred  prisoners  in  the  ship.  It  had  been  consid- 
ered sickly;  about  thirty  had  died.  Provisions  were 
bad  in  quality  and  scant:  half  a  pound  of  beef  and 
one  and  a  half  pounds  of  bread  per  day;  two  days  in 
the  week  they  had  one  pound  pickled  herring  or 
other  fish  and  one  pound  potatoes  as  their  allow- 
ance. From  5  P.  M  to  6  A.  M  the  prisoners  were  con- 
fined under  hatches." 

There  was  no  distinction  between  officers  and 
men  allowed  in  the  prisons  which  they  had  the  mis- 
fortune to  enter.  Officers  and  men  of  privateers 
were  not  permitted  a  parole  unless  the  vessel  in 
which  they  were  captured  carried  fourteen  guns  at 
the  time  of  capture.  Upton  was  captured  in  the 
brig  Hunter,  December  23,  1812,  by  the  British  frig- 
ate PAce&e,  Captain  James  Hillyar,  who  always  had 
a  high  estimation  of  the  American  seaman — espe- 
cially after  his  bloody  encounter  with  Captain  Por- 
ter in  the  Essex.  Upton  had  thrown  overboard 
twelve  of  his  fourteen  guns  in  the  hope  of  escaping. 
When  taken  prisoner  he  made  every  effort  to  get  a 
parole,  and,  although  the  commander  of  the  Phcole 
most  honorably  abetted  these  endeavors,  Upton  re- 
mained a  common  prisoner. 

An  American  prisoner  at  Gibraltar  wrote  from 
that  place:  "  Our  fare  is  but  scant,  I  can  assure  you. 
We  are  put  on  an  allowance  of  six  ounces  per  man 
a  day,  and  that  of  condemned  and  rotten  provisions 
which  no  American  would  attempt  to  give  to  his 
dogs.  Every  American  master,  mate,  or  seaman 
that  is  brought  here  is  stripped  of  all  his  bedding. 
For  my  part  I  was  deprived  of  my  last  blanket,  and 
even  to  the  most  trifling  things  that  were  on  board 
my  ship.  Captain  Selby,  of  the  brig  Margarrt,  had 
his  shirt  stripped  off  his  back,  and  the  last  farthing 
of  money  he  had  was  also  taken  from  him,  amount- 
ing to  three  hundred  and  forty-six  dollars,  all  of 
which  was  done  by  order  of  the  British  commodore 

366  IN  BRITISH  PRISONS.  1813 

residing  in  Gibraltar.1  Before  I  was  confined  on 
board  the  floating  dungeon,  if  it  had  not  been  for  the 
fresh  fish  that  my  mate  and  myself  caught  along- 
side (all  my  crew  being  taken  out  on  their  arrival 
and  put  under  close  confinement)  we  must  certainly 
have  perished." 

In  August,  1813,  a  number  of  exchanged  prison- 
ers arrived  in  Khode  Island  in  a  cartel,  and  the  Provi- 
dence Phoenix  has  the  following  note  concerning 
them:  "  Many  of  these  prisoners,  we  learn,  had  been 
impressed,  and  some  of  them  had  been  detained  dur- 
ing eight  long  years.  On  being  released  on  board 
the  prison  ships,  after  having  refused  to  do  duty  in 
his  Majesty's  floating  hells,  their  bodies  were  found 
to  be  scarred  with  wounds  and  their  backs  lacerated 
by  stripes,  inflicted  upon  them  for  their  obstinacy  in 
refusing  to  fight  against  their  native  country." 

An  American  prisoner  in  the  prison  ship  Samson, 
at  Chatham,  England,  writing  on  June  8,  1813,  says: 
"  I  have  been  now  six  weeks  a  prisoner,  during  which 
time  I  have  been  on  board  eleven  of  their  floating 
hells.  In  this  ship,  besides  Americans,  are  five  hun- 
dred Frenchmen,  some  of  whom  have  been  prison- 

1  In  striking  contrast  to  this  piratical  treatment  we  have  the  following 
correspondence  between  Captain  Bainbridge,  of  the  Constitution,  and 
Lieutenant-General  Hislop,  who  was  captured  in  the  Jdra,  December, 
1812.  Bainbridge  wrote  from  San  Salvador,  January,  1813:  "It  is  pain- 
ful for  me  to  learn  that  you  have  lost  the  plate  presented  by  the  colony 
of  Demerara.  It  can  not  be  found  on  board  here,  and  I  candidly  believe 
it  is  not  here.  If,  however,  it  should  be  on  board,  it  will  be  found,  and 
you  may  rely  on  my  sending  it  to  England  for  you.  If  it  camo  from  the 
Java,  I  have  no  doubt  it  was  taken  among  some  other  baggage."  On  the 
same  day  Lieutenant-General  Hislop  wrote:  "I  am  happy  in  being  able 
to  inform  you  that  in  opening  the  large  cases  of  my  baggage  one  of  thorn 
has  been  found  to  contain  two  chests,  one  of  which  proves  to  be  the  one 
which  could  not  be  accounted  for,  which  mistake  arose  from  the  silver- 
smith in  numbering  the  packages.  I  am  extremely  sorry  that  this  circum- 
stance should  have  occasioned  you  any  trouble,  and  bog  to  assure  you 
that  I  shall  always  remain,  with  esteem  and  respect,  dear  sir, 
"  Your  very  obedient  servant, 

"T.  HISLOP." 

1818-1815.  "FLOATING  HELLS."  367 

ers  ten  years.  Lice,  hunger,  and  nakedness  are  no 
strangers  here.  There  are  one  thousand  two  hun- 
dred Americans  and  five  thousand  French  prisoners 
in  this  harbor.  Of  the  Americans  about  seven  hun- 
dred have  been  heretofore  impressed,  and  have  been 
sent  here  from  on  board  English  men-of-war.  Would 
to  God  I  were  at  home  again!  " 

But  it  was  at  Dartmoor  Prison  that  the  greatest 
atrocities  were  perpetrated  against  American  pris- 
oners. Dartmoor  Prison,  or  Depot,  as  it  was  called 
by  the  English,  was  about  fifteen  miles  northeast 
of  Plymouth,  in  the  County  of  Devonshire.  "  Its  ap- 
pearance and  situation,"  wrote  an  American  who 
was  confined  there  many  months,  "  is  the  most  un- 
pleasant and  disagreeable  imaginable.  The  country 
around,  as  far  as  the  eye  extends,  is  uneven,  barren, 
and  dreary;  not  a  tree,  shrub,  or  scarce  a  plant  is 
seen  for  many  miles  round.  Here  and  there  appears 
a  miserable  thatched  cottage  whose  outward  ap- 
pearance well  bespeaks  the  misery  and  poverty  that 
dwells  within.  Here  no  cheering  prospect  greets 
the  prisoner's  eye;  bountiful  Nature  denies  all  her 
sweets  and  seems  to  sympathize  with  the  unhappy 
prisoners.  The  climate  is  rather  unhealthy;  the 
prisoners  are  almost  continually  cold  during  nine 
months  of  the  year,  owing  probably  to  its  height, 
it  being  upward  of  one  thousand  seven  hundred  feet 
from  the  surface  of  the  sea." 

That  the  above  description  of  the  dreariness  of 
Dartmoor  is  not  exaggerated  will  be  seen  by  the 
following  account  taken  from  a  London  periodical 
published  in  1880,  and  referring  to  the  condition  of 
the  moor  in  1845:  "Lost  on  the  moor!  .  .  .  Scores 
of  men  had  so  vanished  and  been  never  heard  of 
since.  Natives,  even,  accustomed  to  the  dangers  of 
bog,  crag,  and  fell,  of  overwhelming,  blinding  mist, 
of  overtaking  nightfall,  of  the  sudden,  deep,  obscur- 
ing snow,  and  of  the  lost  track— natives  alive  to  all 
these  perils  have  been  lost  on  the  moor,  nor  any 

36g  IN  BRITISH  PRISONS.  1813-1815. 

trace  of  them  ever  found.  What  wonder,  then,  that 
a  Londoner,  entirely  unused  to  and  unknowing  of 
the  treachery  lurking  in  such  a  wild,  should  now 
and  again  share  the  same  fate?  The  thing,  indeed, 
was  too  common  to  create  much  more  than  a  nine- 
days'  astonishment." 

Dartmoor  Prison,  where  many  American  prisoners  were  confined. 

A  more  scathing  commentary  on  the  brutality  of 
selecting  Dartmoor  as  a  prison  for  American  and 
French  prisoners  could  not  be  had.  These  unfortu- 
nate men,  being  strangers  in  the  country,  of  course 
were  unaware  of  the  dangers  lurking  in  these  bogs- 
dangers  which  even  the  natives,  though  "  alive  to 
all  these  perils,"  have  not  been  able  to  pass  through 
in  safety.  What  was  the  object,  then,  in  placing 
several  thousands  of  Americans  in  this  place?  Cer- 
tainly they  would  endeavor  to  escape,  but  in  this 
case  not  to  liberty,  but  to  a  horrible  death  in  the 
bogs  and  crags. 

Dartmoor  Prison  was  divided  into  seven  yards, 
with  adjoining  apartments  for  the  accommodation 
of  prisoners  at  night,  each  of  which  was  expected  to 
hold  from  one  thousand  one  hundred  to  one  thou- 
sand five  hundred  men,  guarded  by  two  thousand 

1813-1815.  DARTMOOR.  369 

militia  and  two  companies  of  artillery.  The  prisons 
were  strongly  built  of  stone  and  surrounded  by  two 
circular  walls,  the  outer  wall  measuring  one  mile 
in  circumference.  On  the  inner  wall  were  military 
walks  for  sentinels.  Within  this  wall  were  iron 
palisades,  distant  about  twenty  feet  and  ten  feet  in 
height.  Adjoining  the  outer  wall  were  guardhouses, 
placed  north,  east,  and  south.  There  were  separate 
yards  which  communicated  with  each  other  through 
a  passage  about  one  hundred  and  fifty  feet  long  and 
twenty  broad,  guarded  on  each  side  by  iron  bars, 
over  which,  and  fronting  No.  4,  was  a  military  walk 
for  sentinels.  Opposite  this  passage  was  the  market 
square.  The  first  yard  contained  three  prisons,  viz. : 
Nos.  1,  2,  and  3,  of  which  Nos.  1  and  3  only  were  (in 
1814)  occupied,  No.  2  standing  vacant.  The  next 
yard,  No.  4,  was  occupied  solely  by  blacks,  and  was 
separated  from  the  other  yards  by  two  stone  walls 
about  fifteen  feet  high.  The  next  yard  contained 
prisons  Nos.  5,  6,  and  7,  of  which  only  Nos.  5  and  7 
were  occupied,  No.  6,  like  No.  2,  standing  vacant. 
North  of  No.  1,  between  the  inner  wall  and  the  iron 
railings,  was  the  place  of  punishment,  four  Ameri- 
cans having  been  sentenced  to  suffer  imprisonment 
during  the  war  for  attempting  to  blow  up  prize 
ships.  This  prison  was  calculated  to  contain  sixty 
men,  who  were  allowed  a  blanket  and  straw  bedding, 
their  daily  allowance  of  provisions  being  consider- 
ably reduced.  Fronting  No.  1  yard  was  a  wall  sepa- 
rating it  from  the  hospital,  and  fronting  No.  3  was 
another  wall  separating  it  from  the  inner  barracks. 
The  market  square  was  nearly  square,  and  accommo- 
dated five  thousand  persons.  It  was  opened  every 
day,  Sundays  excepted,  at  eleven  o'clock  and  closed 
at  two  o'clock.  At  the  upper  part  of  the  market 
were  two  stone  houses — one  for  the  prisoners  and 
the  other  for  stores.  The  other  buildings  attached 
to  the  depot  were  houses  for  the  turnkeys,  clerks, 
one  for  the  agent,  and  another  for  the  doctor. 

370  IN  BRITISH  PRISONS.  1812-1815. 

To  enter  either  of  the  prison  yards  from  without, 
it  was  necessary  to  pass  through  five  gates.  Front- 
ing the  outer  gate  was  a  reservoir  of  water,  which 
was  brought  the  distance  of  six  miles  by  means  of 
a  canal.  The  hospital  was  under  the  superintend- 
ence of  a  physician,  who  had  two  assistants.  Dr. 
George  M'Grath,  the  superintendent  in  1812-?15,  was 
a  man  of  eminence  and  skill,  and  will  ever  be  remem- 
bered by  Americans  with  esteem  and  respect.  The 
sick  uniformly  received  from  him  every  attention. 
In  1815  there  were  five  thousand  six  hundred  Ameri- 
cans in  this  depot,  nearly  one  half  of  whom  were 
seamen  impressed  before  the  war. 

Great  hardships  were  suffered  by  Americans  in 
the  winter  of  1813-'14,  which  proved  to  be  unusually 
cold.  Through  the  knavery  of  some  British  officials 
many  of  the  prisoners  had  been  robbed  of  most  of 
their  clothing,  and,  though  almost  naked,  they  were 
not  allowed  to  have  any  fires.  It  was  not  until  April, 
1814,  that  these  sufferers  received  from  Mr.  Beasly, 
the  agent  of  the  American  Government  for  our  sea- 
men held  as  prisoners  in  Great  Britain,  a  suit  of 
clothes  and  the  allowance  of  two  and  a  half  pence 
a  day. 

On  the  capture  of  the  privateer  RattkauaJc-c,  in 
1814,  her  men  were  thrown  into  Dartmoor  Prison. 
In  keeping  with  his  reputation  for  needless  cruelty, 
Major  Thomas  George  Shortland,  who  then  com- 
manded the  prison,  made  no  distinction  between  the 
officers  and  seamen  of  the  privateer,  but  placed  them 
all  in  one  apartment.  Among  the  prisoners  was  the 
second  officer  of  the  Rattlesnake,  who  has  concealed 
his  identity  under  the  initials  E.  G.  Immediately 
upon  his  incarceration  E.  G.  determined  to  make  his 
escape,  and  with  this  object  in  view  he  secretly 
bought  up  all  the  old  rope-yarn  he  could  in  the 
prison,  and  made  from  it  a  rope  eighty  feet  long,  the 
distance  from  the  top  window  of  the  prison  in  which 
he  was  confined  to  the  ground.  By  some  ingenious 

1814  A  REMARKABLE  ESCAPE.  371 

manner  he  also  succeeded  in  making  a  suit  of  uni- 
form like  that  worn  by  the  sentinels,  which  he  put 
on  under  a  greatcoat  of  the  same  color  and  pattern 
worn  by  the  guards.  He  had  noticed  that  at  night 
the  sentinels  were  accustomed  to  carry  their  mus- 
kets with  muzzles  downward  and  under  their  great- 
coats. Not  being  able  to  procure  a  musket,  E.  G. 
secured  an  umbrella,  which,  being  concealed  under 
his  coat,  with  just  the  end  exposed  to  view,  made  a 
good  representation  of  a  musket. 

Having  secured  the  countersign  for  the  night 
from  one  of  the  sentinels  for  a  consideration  of  six 
guineas,  K.  G.  lowered  himself  from  his  window  one 
night  shortly  before  twelve  o'clock,  when  the  guards 
were  changed.  As  the  gates  were  thrown  open  for 
the  relief  guards  E.  G.  boldly  presented  himself  at 
the  place  with  the  other  sentinels.  He  received  the 
usual  challenge: 

"  Who  goes  there?  " 

"  A  friend,"  was  the  answer,  and  on  advancing 
and  giving  the  countersign  he  was  told  to  pass.  At 
this  moment,  however,  the  sentinel  who  had  betrayed 
the  countersign  to  the  prisoner  for  six  guineas 
stepped  forward  and  told  the  gaternan  that  the  pre- 
tended sentinel  was  one  of  the  prisoners.  The  gate- 
man  at  first  refused  to  credit  this,  but,  on  the  traitor 
insisting,  E.  G.  was  arrested  and  the  deception  dis- 
covered. Infuriated  by  this  treachery,  E.  G.  sprang 
upon  the  fellow  and  attempted  to  kill  him  with  the 
only  weapon  he  possessed,  a  dagger.  The  guards 
were  too  quick  for  him,  however,  and,  being  over- 
powered, R.  G.  was  thrown  into  the  "  black  hole  " 
and  kept  there  ten  days  on  bread  and  water. 

Being1  brought  before  Shortland,  E.  G.  was  asked 
how  he  succeeded  in  getting  the  countersign.  He 
said:  "If  the  man  who  gave  it  to  me  had  behaved 
honorably,  death  could  not  havo  wrested  the  secret 
from  me.  That  is  the  character,  sir,  of  the  Americans 
— always  true  to  their  engagements.  But  as  the  sol- 

372  IN  BRITISH  PRISONS.  1814. 

dier  evidently  took  my  money  only  to  deceive  me, 
I  will  turn  the  scale  on  him  and  expose  his  conduct. 

His  name  is .    He  gave  me  the  countersign  for 

six  guineas,  and  then  basely  betrayed  me."  Assured 
of  the  sentinel's  treachery,  Shortland  had  three 
hundred  lashes  applied  to  him.  Again  questioning 
B.  G.,  Shortland  said:  "Mr.  G.,  I  respect  you.  You 
are  a  brave  man,  and  if  you  will  not  attempt  to 
escape  again  I  will  give  you  my  honor,  as  a  British 
officer,  that  you  shall  be  exchanged  and  go  home 
in  the  first  cartel."  Mr.  G.  declined  this  offer,  de- 
claring that  he  would  make  his  escape  that  very 

As  the  guards  had  not  noticed  the  rope  from  the 
window,  it  seemed  as  if  the  daring  prisoner  might 
make  good  his  threat,  in  spite  of  Shortland's  declara- 
tion that  the  sentries  would  be  doubled  and  a  special 
watch  kept  on  him.  The  guards  were  doubled  on 
the  following  night,  but  that  very  circumstance 
seemed  to  favor  the  prisoner's  attempt,  for  such  an 
unusual  number  of  sentinels  caused  some  confusion 
at  the  gates  when  the  relief  came.  True  to  his  word, 
E.  G.  made  his  second  attempt  to  escape  that  night. 
Having  ascertained  the  password  from  another  sen- 
tinel for  three  guineas,  he  descended  the  rope  just  at 
midnight,  and  passed  through  the  gate  with  the  other 
sentinels,  .having  given  the  countersign  "Wells." 
He  was  similarly  challenged  and  examined  several 
times  before  getting  clear  of  the  yard.  On  clearing 
the  prison  he  made  for  the  coast,  where  he  arrived 
almost  famished.  Finding  an  18-foot  boat  on  the 
beach  with  only  one  oar  in  it,  he  put  to  sea  with  the 
intention  of  gaining  the  coast  of  France,  using  his 
single  oar  as  a  rudder  and  his  umbrella  and  great- 
coat as  sails.  When  he  had  covered  half  the  dis- 
tance, a  brig  of  war  passed  very  close  to  him,  but 
by  taking  in  all  his  "  sails  "  and  lying  down  in  the 
bottom  of  the  boat  he  avoided  detection.  After  a 
dangerous  passage  of  thirty-six  hours  he  reached  the 


coast  of  France,  where  he  was  most  hospitably  re- 

The  brutalities  with  which  American  prisoners  in 
Dartmoor  were  treated  reached  a  climax  on  April 
6,  1815,  when,  under  the  orders  of  the  infamous 
Shortland,  the  entire  guard  of  one  thousand  men 
was  ordered  out  and  deliberately  fired  volley  after 
volley  into  the  thousands  of  unarmed  and  helpless 
men  penned  in  the  yards.  The  butchery  took  place 
on  the  evening  of  April  6th.  Shortland,  about  nine 
o'clock  that  night,  discovered  a  small  hole  that  had 
been  dug  in  one  of  the  inner  walls  of  the  prison,  and 
immediately  jumped  to  the  conclusion  that  an  at- 
tempt to  escape  was  about  to  be  made.  The  exist- 
ence of  the  hole  was  known  to  not  more  than  a 
quarter  of  the  Americans  confined  in  the  place. 
Shortland  had  been  to  Plymouth  that  day,  where  he 
had  been  imbibing  liquor  until,  by  the  time  he  re- 
turned to  the  prison,  he  was  in  a  drunken  fury.  He 
had  long  nourished  a  spite  against  his  prisoners, 
which  unfortunately  had  been  encouraged  by  the 
bold  and  perhaps  imprudent  demeanor  of  our  men, 
who,  knowing  that  peace  had  existed  for  several 
months,  were  angry  at  what,  to  them,  seemed  un- 
necessary delay.  Most  of  the  men,  knowing  Short- 
land's  resentment,  very  naturally  attributed  this  ad- 
ditional vexation  to  his  personal  spite  for  them,  and 
lost  no  opportunity  for  showing  him  "what  they 
thought  of  him."  Shortland,  in  the  few  preceding 
months,  had  frequently  expressed  his  intention  of 
"  fixing  the  damned  rascals  "  before  they  got  beyond 
his  power,  and  the  discovery  of  the  hole  referred  to 
gave  him  the  desired  excuse  for  calling  out  the  entire 

Immediately  upon  the  rapid  ringing  of  the  alarm 
bell  and  the  ordering  out  of  the  whole  guard,  the 
mass  of  the  prisoners,  who  were  peaceably  walking 
about  the  yards,  ignorant  of  the  cause  of  these  un- 
usual demonstrations,  moved  toward  the  gate,  where 

374:  IN  BBITISH  PRISONS.  1815. 

alone  they  were  able  to  discover  what  was  going  on. 
Glad  of  some  excitement  that  would  break  the  mo- 
notony of  their  imprisonment,  the  crowd  of  several 
thousand  prisoners  surged  toward  the  gate,  pushing 
and  swaying  in  eager  expectation  of  something 
new.  Under  the  heavy  pressure  the  gate  gave  way, 
forcing  those  in  front  into  the  second  yard,  while 
those  behind,  not  knowing  what  had  occurred,  con- 
tinued to  press  on,  pushing  those  nearest  the  gate- 
way farther  into  the  second  yard.  At  this  moment 
Shortland  came  into  the  inner  square  at  the  head 
of  his  men,  while  a  large  force  of  guards  suddenly 
appeared  on  the  walls,  ready  to  fire  into  the  mass  of 
human  beings.  The  prisoners,  not  knowing  that 
they  were  the  object  of  this  martial  demonstration, 
continued  to  press  forward  in  their  eagerness  to  wit- 
ness what  was  about  to  happen.  At  this  moment 
one  of  the  friendly  British  guards  seized  an  oppor- 
tunity to  warn  one  of  the  prisoners  that  they  were 
about  to  be  fired  upon,  whereupon  there  was  a  rush 
of  the  captives  to  regain  their  proper  yard,  and  from 
thence  to  their  cells  or  prison  rooms. 

Observing  that  Shortland  was  about  to  begin  a 
butchery  of  the  helpless  prisoners,  the  officers  of  the 
garrison  declined  to  give  the  orders  to  fire,  and  re- 
signed their  powers  to  Shortland.  But  the  drunken 
brute  was  not  thus  to  be  thwarted  of  his  blood- 
thirsty purpose,  and  he  gave  the  word  for  the  sol- 
diers to  fire.  The  command  was  obeyed,  and  several 
volleys  were  poured  into  the  helpless  mass  of  men  as 
they  struggled  to  pass  through  their  own  gate  and 
regain  their  prisons.  That  the  British  soldiery  ab- 
horred the  criminal  orders  of  Shortland  is  evidenced 
by  the  fact  that  a  comparatively  small  number  of 
men  were  struck,  most  of  the  bullets  being  aimed 
too  high  and  taking  effect  on  the  surrounding  walls. 
After  the  bulk  of  the  prisoners  had  gained  the  cover 
of  their  cells  Shortland  led  a  charge,  sword  in  hand, 
and  began  a  "  valorous  "  (as  it  seemed  to  him  in  his 

1815.  DARTMOOR  MASSACRE.  375 

rum-crazed  senses)  assault  on  the  few  men  who  had 
not  as  yet  gained  the  shelter  of  the  cells.  One  of  the 
prisoners  afterward  said,  under  oath:  "Their  mur- 
derous pursuers  had  now  entered  the  yard  of  each 
prison,  making  a  general  charge  on  man  and  boy, 
sheathing  their  ruthless  bayonets  in  the  bodies  of 
the  retreating  prisoners,  and  completing  the  work  of 
destruction  by  the  discharge  of  another  volley  of 
musketry  in  the  backs  of  the  hindmost,  who  were 
forcing  their  passage  over  the  wounded  into  their 
prison.  Nor  did  they  stop  here,  but  patroled  the  yard 
to  find  some  solitary  fugitive  who  had  sought  safety 
in  flight.  One  poor,  affrighted  wretch  had  fled  close 
to  the  wall  of  one  of  the  prisons,  fearing  to  move  lest 
he  should  meet  his  death.  Those  demons  of  hell  dis- 
covered him,  and  the  bloody  Shortland  gave  the  fatal 
order  to  fire.  In  vain  the  trembling  victim  fell  on  his 
knees,  and  in  that  imploring  attitude  besought  their 
compassion,  begged  them  to  spare  a  life  almost  ex- 
hausted by  suffering  and  confinement.  He  pleaded 
to  brutes;  he  appealed  to  tigers.  'Fire!'  cried 
Shortland,  and  several  balls  were  discharged  into 
his  bosom. 

"  One  circumstance  that  occurred  during  the 
massacre  ought  not  to  be  omitted.  One  of  the  Brit- 
ish soldiers  belonging  to  the  same  regiment  that  per- 
formed this  work  was  lighting  a  lamp  at  the  door  of 
prison  No.  3  when  the  carnage  commenced,  and  in 
the  hurry  of  retreat  he  was  forced  inside  among  the 
wounded  and  exasperated  prisoners.  In  the  height 
of  their  resentment  the  eye  of  vengeance  was  for  a 
moment  directed  to  the  only  enemy  that  chance 
had  thus  thrown  in  their  power.  It  was  but  for  a 
moment.  The  dignity  of  the  American  character  was 
not  thus  to  be  sullied.  To  the  astonishment  of  this 
affrighted  soldier,  who  was  expecting  every  moment 
to  be  immolated  on  the  altar  of  revenge  as  some 
atonement  for  the  manes  of  our  murdered  country- 
men, he  received  assurances  of  safety  and  protec- 

3T6  IN  BRITISH  PRISONS.  1815, 

tion.  Accordingly,  when  the  doors  were  opened  to 
discharge  the  wounded,  this  man  was  delivered  up 
to  his  astonished  comrades  in  perfect  safety." 

Satisfied  with  having  "  fixed  the  damned  rascals  " 
to  the  extent  of  seven  men  killed  and  sixty  wounded, 
Shortland  withdrew  his  troops,  and,  as  if  to  cover 
his  guilt,  sent  a  dispatch  to  Plymouth  stating  his 
"  danger,"  and  on  the  following  day  a  strong  reen- 
forcement  arrived.  It  is  needless  to  say  that  every 
honorable  British  officer  who  witnessed  the  butchery 
and  the  scene  of  it  afterward  denounced,  in  private, 
Shortland  as  a  cowardly  cur,  though  in  their  official 
capacity  they  were  compelled  to  give  some  color  to 
his  faint-hearted  plea  of  "  duty."  The  matter  was 
thoroughly  investigated  on  both  sides,  and  it  leaves 
no  room  for  doubt  that  the  entire  disgraceful  occur- 
rence was  the  result  of  the  long-pent  spite  of  a 
drunken  officer  who  could  not  allow  the  objects  of 
his  cowardly  enmity  to  escape  him  without  one 
chance  at "  satisfaction." 



ONE  of  the  most  remarkable  actions  of  this  war 
in  which  an  American  privateer  was  engaged  was 
that  between  the  British  40-gun  frigate  Endymion, 
Captain  Henry  Hope,  and  the  armed  ship  Prince  de 
Nenckatel,  of  New  York.  The  extraordinary  feature 
of  this  affair  lies  in  the  fact  that  a  vessel  fitted  out  at 
private  expense  actually  frustrated  the  utmost  en- 
deavors of  an  English  frigate,  of  vastly  superior 
force  in  guns  and  men,  to  capture  the  privateer.  As 
the  commander  of  the  Endymion  said,  he  lost  as  many 
men  in  his  efforts  to  seize  the  Prince  de  Neuchdtel  as 
he  would  have  done  had  his  ship  engaged  a  regular 
man-or-war  of  equal  force,  and  he  generously  ac- 
knowledged that  the  people  in  the  privateer  con- 
ducted their  defense  in  the  most  heroic  and  skillful 

That  this  declaration  of  Captain  Hope  was  sin- 
gularly prophetic  will  be  seen  in  the  fact  that  this 
same  Endymion,  only  three  months  after  her  disas- 
trous attack  on  the  Prince  de  NcucMtel,  had  a  run- 
ning fight  of  two  and  a  half  hours'  duration  with 
the  United  States  44-gun  frigate  President,  a  sister 
ship  of  the  famous  Constitution,  and  a  vessel  "  of 
equal  force  "  to  the  Endymion.  In  the  latter  affair 
the  Endymion  had  eleven  men  killed  and  fourteen 
wounded,  a  total  of  twenty-five  out  of  a  complement 
of  three  hundred  and  fifty.  In  her  attack  on  the  pri- 
vateer the  Endymion  had  forty-nine  killed,  thirty- 



seven  wounded,  and  thirty  of  her  crew  were  made 
prisoners,  a  total  of  one  hundred  and  sixteen  as 
against  the  total  of  twenty-five  in  her  encounter 
with  the  President—*,  ship  "  of  equal  force."  From 
these  statements  it  will  be  seen  that  the  privateer 
had  quite  as  severe  a  fight  as  the  President,  and  on 
this  occasion  contributed  fully  as  much  to  the  glory 
of  American  maritime  prowess. 

This  notable  action  occurred  off  Nantucket  on 
the  night  of  October  11,  1814.  The  Prince  de  Neu- 
cMtel,  commanded  by  Captain  J.  Ordronaux,  was 
considered  a  "  splendid  vessel  "  in  her  clay.  She  was 
a  hermaphrodite-rigged  craft  of  three  hundred  and 
ten  tons — the  End-ymion  measuring  about  one  thou- 
sand four  hundred  tons — and  mounted  seventeen 
guns  as  against  the  Englishman's  fifty  guns,  to  say 
nothing  of  the  latter' s  immensely  larger  calibers. 
Her  complement  when  she  left  New  York  on  her 
most  eventful  cruise  was  about  eighty  men  and 
boys,  which  number  had  been  reduced  by  drafts  for 
prize  crews  to  thirty-seven.  The  Prince  clc  NcuchAtcl 
belonged  to  the  estate  of  Mrs  Charrten,  of  New 
York,  who  had  recently  died.  This  privateer  was 
one  of  the  many  "  lucky  vessels  "  of  the  war,  and 
made  several  profitable  cruises,  in  the  course  of 
which  she  was  chased  by  seventeen  different  men- 
of-war,  but  always  managed  to  escape  through  supe- 
rior seamanship  and  her  great  speed.  The  goods 
captured  by  her  from  the  enemy  and  brought  safely 
into  port  sold  for  nearly  three  millions  of  dollars, 
besides  which  a  large  amount  of  specie  was  secured. 

This  vessel  did  not  begin  her  career  as  a  war 
craft  until  the  spring  of  1814,  at  which  time  she  was 
in  Cherbourg,  France.  Here  she  was  armed  and 
fitted  out  as  a  privateer,  and  early  in  March  she 
plunged  into  the  thickest  of  British  commerce  in  the 
English  Channel,  and  in  one  brief  cruise  made  nine 
valuable  prizes,  most  of  which  arrived  safely  in 
French  ports,  while  those  of  little  value  were  burned. 

1814.       IN  THE  CHOPS  OF  THE  ENGLISH  CHANNEL.       379 

In  June  the  Prince  de  NeucMtel  made  another  dash 
against  the  enemy's  shipping,  sending  six  prizes  into 
Havre  between  the  4th  and  10th  of  that  month,  which 
were  sold.  In  August  this  commerce  destroyer  was 
in  the  Irish  Channel,  where  she  came  across  a  brig 
that  refused  to  surrender,  whereupon  a  broadside 
was  poured  into  the  stubborn  merchant  craft  and 
she  sank.  In  September  the  Prince  de  NeucMtel  de- 
stroyed the  brigs  Steady,  James,  Triton  (of  two  guns, 
laden  with  coffee  and  wine),  Apollo,  Sibron,  Albion, 
Charlotte,  and  Mary  Ann,  besides  the  sloops  Jane  and 
George,  and  the  cutter  General  Doyle.  She  also  cap- 
tured and  destroyed  the  transport  Aaron,  of  four 
guns,  from  Gibraltar  for  Lisbon,  and  converted  the 
following  prizes  into  cartels  in  order  to  get  rid  of 
her  constantly  accumulating  prisoners — the  brigs 
Barewick  Packet,  from  Cork  for  Bristol,  which  had 
fifty  passengers  aboard,  and  Nymph.  She  also  cap- 
tured the  ship  Harmony,  of  four  guns,  and  an  English 
privateer;  but  the  latter  was  allowed  to  escape,  as, 
just  at  the  moment  of  taking  possession,  a  suspicious 
sail  hove  in  sight  which  proved  to  be  a  large  war 
vessel,  and  the  Prince  dc  Ncucliatcl  was  compelled  to 
make  sail  in  flight.  A  prize  crew  had  been  placed 
in  the  Harmony,  with  orders  to  make  for  the  United 
States,  but  a  few  days  later  that  ship  was  recap- 
tured. Instead  of  returning  to  a  French  port  after 
her  last  cruise,  as  had  been  her  custom,  the  Prince 
de  NeucMtel  made  directly  for  Boston,  where  she  re- 
fitted and  put  to  sea  again  early  in  October. 

Captain  Ordronaux,  of  the  Prince  de  Neuchatel, 
was  a  seaman  of  unusual  ability.  At  the  outbreak 
of  hostilities  between  the  United  States  and  Great 
Britain  he  commanded  the  French  privateer  Ma- 
rengo.  It  was  this  vessel  that  Captain  Richard 
Byron,  of  the  British  36-gun  frigate  Belvidera,  was 
so  earnestly  watching,  on  June  23,  1812,  off  these 
same  Nantucket  Shoals,  when  Captain  John  Rodg- 
ers'  squadron,  having  the  President  as  a  flagship, 

380  THE  PBIBTCE  DE  NEUOHlTEL.  1814 

came  along  and  chased  the  Englishman  away.  At 
that  time  the  Marengo  was  in  New  London,  quite  as 
earnestly  watching  for  a  chance  to  pounce  upon  the 
English  brig  Lady  Sherlock,  expected  daily  from  Hali- 
fax bound  for  Jamaica  with  an  exceedingly  valu- 
able cargo.  It  proved  to  be  very  much  like  a  cat 
watching  a  mouse  to  prevent  it  from  getting  a 
morsel  of  cheese  when  the  bulldog  Eodgers  came 
tumbling  along,  chased  the  cat,  Belvidera,  into  Hali- 
fax, when  the  mouse,  Marengo,  pounced  upon  the 
unsuspecting  Lady  Sherlock  as  she  was  passing  by 
and  carried  her  safely  into  New  York,  August  10, 

It  was  on  the  very  scene  of  this  cat-dog-mouse- 
and-cheese  comedy,  enacted  in  1812,  that  the  Prince 
de  Neuchdtel,  on  the  night  of  October  11,  1814,  made 
one  of  the  most  heroic  defenses  in  maritime  history. 
At  this  time  the  British  squadron  blockading  the 
port  of  New  York  consisted  of  the  56-gun  frigate 
Majestic,  Captain  John  Hayes;  the  40-gun  frigate 
Endymion,  Captain  Henry  Hope;  and  the  38-gun 
frigate  Pomone,  Captain  John  Richard  Lumley.  The 
Endymion  had  been  sent  to  Halifax  for  repairs,  and 
it  was  while  she  was  returning  from  that  port  to 
her  station  off  New  York  that  she  fell  in  with  the 
Prince  de  Neuchdtel. 

At  noon,  October  llth — October  9th  according  to 
English  accounts — while  the  Prince  de  Ncuchatel, 
then  only  a  few  days  out  of  Boston,  was  about 
half  a  mile  to  the  south  of  Nantucket  Shoals,  Cap- 
tain Ordronaux  discovered  a  sail  off  Gay  Head,, 
and  as  it  promptly  gave  chase  he  was  satisfied  that 
it  was  a  ship  of  force,  and  made  his  preparations 
accordingly.  Knowing  that  few,  if  any,  of  the 
American  frigates  were  on  the  high  seas,  at  that 
time,  owing  to  the  rigor  of  the  British  blockade, 
Captain  Ordronaux  made  every  effort  to  escape, 
being  satisfied  that  the  stranger  was  a  British 
frigate.  Unfortunately  for  the  privateer,  she  was 


so  situated  as  to  be  becalmed  at  the  moment,  while 
the  stranger  was  holding  a  fresh  breeze  and  coming 
up  very  fast.  The  Prince  de  NeucMtel  had  in  tow  the 
prize  she  recently  captured,  the  English  merchant 
ship  Douglass,  which  the  Americans  were  anxious  to 
get  safely  into  port. 

At  three  o'clock  in  the  afternoon  the  privateer 
caught  the  breeze,  and,  as  the  Englishman  was  still 
some  twelve  miles  distant,  hopes  were  entertained 
of  effecting  a  timely  retreat.  By  seven  o'clock  in 
the  evening  it  was  calm,  at  which  time  the  three 
vessels  were  in  sight  of  one  another.  Finding  that 
the  current  was  sweeping  him  shoreward,  Captain 
Ordronaux  cast  off  his  tow,  and  the  two  vessels  came 
to  anchor  about  a  quarter  of  a  mile  apart. 

An  hour  and  a  half  later,  when  it  was  quite  dark, 
the  people  in  the  prize  signaled,  as  previously 
agreed  upon,  that  several  boats  were  approaching 
from  the  frigate,  apparently  with  the  intention  of 
atacking  the  privateer  under  cover  of  night.  Ob- 
serving the  signal,  Captain  Ordronaux  called  all 
hands,  and  made  every  preparation  for  giving  the 
British  a  warm  reception.  As  soon  as  the  English 
boats,  which  were  under  the  command  of  Lieuten- 
ant Abel  Hawkins,  the  first  lieutenant  of  the  Endym- 
ion,  could  be  distinguished  in  the  night,  the  priva- 
teer began  a  rapid  discharge  of  her  great  guns  and 
small  arms.  Paying  no  attention  whatever  to  this, 
the  English  gallantly  dashed  ahead,  and  in  a  few 
moments  were  alongside  the  Prince  de  NeucMtel  and 
endeavoring  to  clamber  up  her  sides.  The  enemy 
had  planned  the  attack  with  considerable  skill,  for 
almost  at  the  same  moment  it  was  reported  to  Cap- 
tain Ordronaux  that  an  English  boat  was  on  each 
side,  one  on  each  bow  and  one  under  the  stern — five 
craft  in  all,  completely  surrounding  the  privateer, 
and  compelling  her  crew  to  face  five  different  points 
of  attack  at  once. 

This  was  the  beginning  of  a  desperate  and  bloody 

382  THE  PRINCE  DE  NEUCHiTEL.  1814. 

struggle,  in  which  men  fought  like  wild  beasts  and 
grappled    with    each    other    in    deadly    embrace. 
Knives,  pistols,  cutlasses,  marline  spikes,  belaying 
pins — anything  that  could  deal  an  effective  blow — 
were  in  requisition,  while  even  bare  fists,  finger  nails, 
and  teeth  came  into  play.    Captain  Ordronaux  him- 
self fired  some  eighty  shots  at  the  enemy.    Springing 
up  the  sides  of  the  vessel  the  British  would  endeavor 
to  gain  her  deck,  but  every  attempt  was  met  with 
deadly  blows  by  the  sturdy  defenders  of  the  craft. 
A  few  of  the  British  succeeded  in  gaining  the  decks 
and  took  the  Americans  in  the  rear,  but  the  latter 
promptly  turned  on  the  enemy  and  dispatched  them. 
It  was  well  understood  by  the  crew  of  the  privateer 
that  Captain  Ordronaux  had  avowed  his  determina- 
tion of  never  being  taken  alive  by  the  British,  and 
that  he  would  blow  up  his  ship,  with  all  hands,  before 
striking  his  colors.    At  one  period  of  the  fight,  when 
the  British  had  gained  the  deck,  and  were  gradually 
driving    the    Americans    back,    Ordronaux    seized 
a  lighted  match,  ran  to  the  companion  way,  directly 
over  the  magazine,  and  called  out  to  his  men  that 
he  would  blow  the  ship  up  if  they  retreated  further. 
The  threat  had  the  desired  effect,  the  Americans 
rallied  for  a  final  struggle,  overpowered  the  enemy, 
and  drove  the  few  survivors  into  their  boats. 

Such  a  sanguinary  fight  could  not  be  of  long 
duration,  and  at  the  end  of  twenty  minutes  the  Eng- 
lish cried  out  for  quarter,  upon  which  the  Americans 
ceased  firing.  It  was  found  that  of  the  five  barges 
one  had  been  sunk,  three  had  drifted  off  from  along- 
side apparently  without  a  living  person  in  them, 
and  the  fifth  boat  was  taken  possession  of  by  the 
Americans.  There  were  forty-three  men  in  the  barge 
that  was  sunk,  of  whom  only  two  were  rescued; 
the  remainder,  it  is  supposed,  were  caught  by  the 
swift  current,  carried  beyond  the  reach  of  holp,  and 
drowned.  The  boat  seized  by  the  Americans  con- 
tained thirty-six  men  at  the  beginning  of  the  action, 

1814.        DREADFUL  SLAUGHTER  OP  THE  ENGLISH.         383 

of  whom  eight  were  killed  and  twenty  were  wounded, 
leaving  only  eight  unhurt.  The  entire  number  of 
men  in  the  five  barges  was  one  hundred  and  twenty, 
including  the  officers,  marines,  and  boys.  The  entire 
number  of  men  in  the  privateer  fit  for  duty  at 
the  beginning  of  the  action  was  thirty-seven,  of 
whom  seven  were  killed  and  twenty-four  wounded. 
Among  the  killed  was  Charles  Hilburn,  a  Nantucket 
pilot,  who  had  been  taken  out  of  a  fishing  vessel. 
Among  the  British  killed  were  First  Lieutenant 
Hawkins  and  a  master's  mate,  while  the  second  lieu- 
tenant, two  master's  mates,  and  two  midshipmen 
were  wounded. 

"  So  determined  and  effective  a  resistance,"  says 
an  English  naval  historian,  "  did  great  credit  to  the 
American  captain  and  his  crew.  On  the  31st  the 
Eiid-yniion  fell  in  with  the  56-gun  ship  Saturn,  Cap- 
tain James  Nash,  bound  for  Halifax,  and,  sending  on 
board,  with  her  surgeon  and  his  servant,  twenty- 
eight  wounded  officers  and  men,  received  from  the 
Saturn,  to  replace  the  severe  loss  she  had  sustained, 
one  lieutenant,  four  midshipmen,  and  thirty-three 
seamen  and  marines." 

Captain  Ordronaux  now  found  himself  in  posses- 
sion of  so  many  prisoners  that  they  outnumbered 
his  own  able-bodied  men,  there  remaining  only  eight 
seamen  unhurt  in  the  privateer,  while  there  were 
thirty  prisoners  to  take  care  of.  As  a  matter  of 
precaution,  Captain  Ordronaux  allowed  only  the 
second  lieutenant  of  the  Endymion,  three  midship- 
men— two  of  them  desperately  wounded — and  one 
wounded  master's  mate  to  come  aboard;  while  the 
other  prisoners,  after  having  all  their  arms,  oars, 
etc.,  taken  from  them,  were  kept  in  the  launch  under 
the  stern  of  the  Prince  de  Neuchatel,  where  there 
would  be  less  danger  of  attempting  to  overpower 
the  few  surviving  Americans,  capture  the  ship,  and 
release  their  officers. 

Anxious  to  be  rid  of  his  dangerous  prisoners 

384  THE  PRINCE  DE  NEUCHiTEL.  1814. 

Captain  Ordronaux,  on  the  following  morning, 
signed  an  agreement  with  the  lieutenant,  midship- 
men, and  master's  mates,  in  behalf  of  themselves 
and  the  British  seamen  and  marines,  not  to  serve 
against  the  United  States  again  in  this  war  unless 
duly  exchanged.  Under  this  agreement  the  prison- 
ers were  placed  on  shore  at  Nantucket  by  the  priva- 
teer's launch,  and  were  taken  charge  of  by  the  United 
States  marshal.  Most  of  the  American  and  English 
wounded  also  were  sent  ashore,  where  they  could  se- 
cure better  attention.  The  Prince  de  Neuclidtel,  as  soon 
as  the  wind  served,  got  under  way,  and  easily  evading 
^he  Endymion,  ran  into  Boston  Harbor,  October  15th. 
^On  gaining  port  Captain  Ordronaux  retired  from 
the  command  of  this  lucky  privateer  and  became 
a  part  owner.  Her  first  officer  in  the  fight  with  the 
Endymion  succeeded  to  the  command  after  promis- 
ing "  never  to  surrender  the  craft."  He  is  described 
by  one  of  the  crew  as  "a  Jew  by  persuasion,  a 
Frenchman  by  birth,  an  American  for  convenience, 
and  so  diminutive  in  stature  as  to  make  it  appear 
ridiculous,  in  the  eyes  of  others,  even  for  him  to 
enforce  authority  among  a  hardy,  weather-beaten 
crew  should  they  do  aught  against  his  will."  Her 
first  officer  is  described  as  "  a  man  who  never  uttered 
an  angry  or  harsh  word,  made  no  use  of  profane 
language,  but  was  terrible,  even  in  his  mildness, 
when  faults  occurred  through  carelessness  or  neg- 
lect. He  knew  what  each  man's  duty  was  and  his 
capacity  for  fulfilling  it,  never  putting  more  to  the 
men's  tasks  than  they  were  able  to  get  through 
with;  but  every  jot  and  tittle  must  be  performed, 
and  that  to  the  very  letter,  without  flinching,  or  the 
task  would  be  doubled.  While  maneuvering  the  men 
he  would  go  through  with  the  various  duties  with- 
out oaths,  bluster,  or  even  loud  words,  and  do  more 
in  less  time  than  all  the  other  officers  on  board,  with 
their  harsh  threatenings,  profane  swearings,  or  loud 
bawlings  through  their  speaking  trumpets.  The 


men  honored  and  obeyed  him,  and  would  have  fought 
with  any  odds  at  his  bidding."  The  second  officer 
was  put  down  as  a  "  mere  nobody."  The  third  offi- 
cer had  been  a  warrant  officer  in  the  Constitution 
during  her  engagements  with  the  Guerri&re  and 
Java,  but  was  discharged  for  "  unofficer-like  con- 
duct," and  had  shipped  in  the  Prince  de  Neuch&tel. 
He  proved  to  be  an  indifferent  officer,  and  his  negli- 
gence was  the  cause  of  the  capture  of  the  privateer 
on  her  next  cruise. 

On  the  night  of  December  21st  the  Prince  de 
NeucMtel,  in  spite  of  the  vigilance  of  the  British 
blockading  force  off  Boston,  got  to  sea.  On  the  fifth 
day  out  she  encountered  a  terrific  storm  which  lasted 
several  days,  and  came  near  ending  the  career  of  this 
formidable  craft.  "  The  morning  of  December  28th," 
records  one  of  the  American  crew,  "  broke  with  no 
prospect  of  the  gale  ceasing,  and  the  brig  looked 
more  like  a  wreck  than  the  stanch  and  proud  craft 
of  the  week  previous.  She  was  stripped  to  her 
stumps,  all  her  yards,  except  her  fore  and  fore-top- 
sail, were  on  deck,  her  rigging  in  disorder,  and  the 
decks  lumbered  and  in  confusion  from  the  effects  of 
the  sea  which  had  so  often  broken  over  them  during 
the  past  night.  Much  of  this  confusion  was  at- 
tributable to  the  third  officer,  who  had  the  watch 
from  4  A.  M.  to  8  A.  M.  When  he  was  relieved  by  the 
first  officer,  at  8  A.  M.,  the  latter  severely  repri- 
manded the  third  officer,  and,  among  other  things, 
asked  if  a  sharp  lookout  had  been  maintained,  and 
replied  that  the  last  man  sent  to  the  masthead  had 
left  his  post  without  being  relieved,  and  without  the 
third  officer  knowing  that  the  brig  had  been  with- 
out a  lookout  all  that  time.  ...  I  saw  the  fire — or, 
what  was  its  equal,  anger — flash  from  the  first  lieu- 
tenant's eyes  at  this  remissness  of  duty,  and  he  in- 
stantly gave  an  order  for  the  best  man  on  board  to 
go  to  the  masthead,  there  to  remain  till  ordered 
down."  This  man  had  not  been  at  his  post  ten  min- 

386  THE  PRINCE  DB  NEUCHiTEL.  1814. 

utes  when  he  reported  a  large  sail  bearing  down  on 
the  Prince  de  Neuchatel,  and  shortly  afterward  two 
others,  apparently  heavy  men-of-war,  making  every 
effort  to  close  on  the  privateer.  These  strangers 
were,  in  fact,  the  British  frigates  Leander,  Newcastle, 
and  Acasta,  composing  Sir  George  Collier's  squadron, 
which  had  been  off  Boston,  but  was  now  hastening 
across  the  Atlantic  in  search  of  the  Constitution, 
which  had  eluded  them  off  Boston  and  was  now  at 

As  soon  as  the  strangers  were  discovered  the 
Prince  de  NeucMtel  was  put  on  her  best  point  of  sail- 
ing, but  in  spite  of  every  effort — the  massive  frigates 
having  a  great  advantage  over  her  in  the  heavy  seas 
and  wind — she  was  soon  surrounded  and  captured. 
Only  a  few  minutes  after  the  surrender  one  of  the 
frigates  lost  her  jib  boom,  fore  and  main  topgallant 
masts  and  broke  her  mizzen  topsail  yard  in  the 
slings,  while  another  frigate  carried  away  her  miz- 
zen topsail,  main  topgallant  yard,  and  strained  her 
fore-topsail  yard  so  as  to  endanger  it  by  carrying 
sail.  Had  the  approach  of  the  enemy  been  discov- 
ered when  they  made  out  the  privateer  the  Prince 
de  NeucMtel  would  have  escaped. 

"At  the  time  of  our  capture,"  said  one  of  the 
privateer's  crew,  "there  were  on  board  five  or  six 
French  and  Portuguese  seamen  who  had  belonged 
to  the  brig  during  her  former  cruisings,  and  who  ap- 
peared to  be  on  good  terms  with  the  captain  but 
had  no  intercourse  with  the  crew.  They  messed  by 
themselves  and  had  as  little  to  say  to  the  Ameri- 
cans as  the  Americans  manifested  disposition  to 
associate  with  them.  These  men  were  overheard  to 
say,  more  than  once  during  the  chase,  that  the  brig 
never  would  be  taken  by  the  frigates,  assigning  no 

'     1  For  an  account  of  the  remarkable  escape  of  Old  Ironsides  from 
Boston  and  her  chase  by  this  squadron,  see  Maclay's  History  of  the  Navy, 
..Tol.  i,  pp.  622-689. 


reason  why  only,  *  She  shall  neyer  be  under  a  Brit- 
ish flag.'  One  of  the  men  had  been  a  prisoner  of 
war  ten  times,  and  declared  he  would  sooner  go  to 
the  bottom  of  the  ocean  than  again  to  prison.  To 
this  no  one  objected,  provided  he  went  without  com- 
pany; for  he  was  a  Frenchman  by  birth,  a  Calmuc 
in  appearance,  a  savage  in  disposition,  a  cutthroat 
at  heart,  and  a  devil  incarnate.  Our  first  lieutenant 
kept  a  strict  eye  upon  this  coterie  during  the  whole 
day  that  the  chase  continued,  the  idea  strengthen- 
ing, as  the  captain  held  on  his  course  long  after  any 
hope  remained  of  the  chance  of  getting  clear  of 
the  frigates,  that  all  was  not  right.  In  the  hurry  of 
the  moment  [the  surrender]  at  our  rounding  to, 
Jos6,  one  of  the  men  above  spoken  of,  seized  a  brand 
from  the  caboose,  proceeded  toward  the  magazine, 
and  would  have  carried  his  diabolical  intentions  into 
effect  only  for  the  vigilance  of  our  ever-watchful 
lieutenant,  who  checked  him  ere  too  late,  brought 
him  on  deck,  nor  quit  his  hold  till  the  brand  was 
cast  overboard  and  the  dastard  thrown  thrice  his 
length  by  an  indignant  thrust  of  the  lieutenant's 
powerful  arm." 

With  much  difficulty  a  small  boarding  party  from 
the  Leander  took  possession  of  the  privateer,  but  as 
the  sea  and  wind  remained  heavy  it  was  found  to  be 
impossible  to  send  a  second  detachment  aboard. 
Realizing  their  advantage,  the  American  officers, 
about  half  an  hour  before  midnight,  rallied  their  men, 
with  a  view  of  recapturing  the  brig,  but  on  gaining 
the  deck  they  observed  that  the  condition  of  her 
spars  and  sails  was  such  as  to  render  such  a  move 
hopeless  and  the  attempt  was  given  up.  On  the 
following  day  the  prisoners  were  taken  aboard 
the  Leandcr,  where  the  Americans  noticed  a  large 
placard  nailed  to  her  mainmast,  on  which  were 
written  these  words:  "Beward  of  £100  to  the 
man  who  shall  first  descry  the  American  frigate 
Constitution  provided  she  can  be  brought  to,  and 

388  THE  PBINCB  DE  NEUOTL&TEL.  1814. 

a  smaller  reward  should  they  not  be  enabled 
to  come  up  with  her."  The  Leander  had  been 
fitted  out  expressly  to  capture  Old  Ironsides,  and  had 
a  picked  crew  of  more  than  five  hundred  men. 
"  Every  one  [in  the  Leander],"  continues  the  record, 
"  was  eager  in  his  inquiries  about  this  far-famed  frig- 
ate, and  most  of  the  men  appeared  anxious  to  fall 
in  with  her,  she  being  a  constant  theme  of  conversa- 
tion, speculation,  and  curiosity.  There  were,  how- 
ever, two  seamen  and  a  marine — one  of  whom  had 
had  his  shin  sadly  shattered  from  one  of  her  [the 
Constitution's]  grapeshot — who  were  in  the  frigate 
Java  when  she  was  captured.  These  I  have  often 
heard  say,  in  return  to  their  shipmates'  boastings: 
*  If  you  had  seen  as  much  of  the  Constitution  as  we 
have,  you  would  give  her  a  wide  berth,  for  she 
throws  her  shot  almighty  careless,  fires  quick,  aims 
low,  and  is  altogether  an  ugly  customer.' " 

The  thoroughly  American  spirit  of  the  Prince  de 
NeucMteVs  crew  is  well  brought  out  in  the  account 
of  one  of  her  men.  After  being  taken  aboard  the 
Leander  the  prisoners  were  stowed  away  in  the  cable 
tier— a  miserable  hole  at  the  bottom  of  the  ship, 
where  the  anchor  cables  were  stored.  Here  the 
Americans  were  compelled  to  remain  from  4  p.  M. 
to  8  A.  M.  every  twenty-four  hours.  To  while  away 
the  time  they  resorted  to  singing.  "One  night," 
says  one  of  the  men,  "  it  was  understood  that  soine 
of  our  naval-victory  songs  were  not  well  relished  by 
the  officers  on  deck,  which  only  brought  out  others 
with  a  louder  chorus  than  before  and  an  extra 
<  hurrah  for  the  Yankee  thunders.'  At  this  half  a 
dozen  of  the  best  English  songsters  were  picked, 
with  some  dozen  to  join  in  their  choruses.  These 
assembled  around  the  hatch  above  us  for  the  pur- 
pose of  silencing  us,  singing  us  down,  or  to  rival  us 
in  noisy  melody  and  patriotic  verse.  They  were  al- 
'lowed  to  finish  their  songs  unmolested  by  lis,  but  the 
moment  they  were  through  we  struck  up  with  ours, 

1814.  A  BATTLE  OP  SOHQS.  389 

each  one  striving  to  outdo  his  shipmate,  especially 
in  the  choruses.  Knowing  that  the  character  of  our 
country  was  at  stake,  and  that  it  depended  much 
upon  our  zeal  and  good  management  whether  it 
should  be  upheld  in  the  face  of  our  enemies,  we 
strove  accordingly  to  do  our  best  as  its  representa- 
tives. .  .  .  The  contest  was  kept  up  for  some  time, 
evidently  to  our  advantage,  not  only  as  to  the  quality 
of  the  singing — for  in  this  our  opponents  could  not 
hold  their  own  a  moment — but  to  the  number  and 
subject  of  the  songs,  they  having  run  out  with  their 
victories  over  the  Yankees  before  our  party  was 
fairly  warm  with  the  contest.  That  they  should  not 
flag  at  the  game,  they  took  up  with  the  First  of 
June,  the  Battle  of  the  Nile,  besides  many  others, 
and  we  told  them,  in  plain  English,  that  they  were 
dodging  the  contest.  This  they  cared  far  less  for 
than  they  did  for  a  home-thrust  victory  over  them 
from  the  Yankees  to  each  one  of  theirs  over  the 
French.  At  last  our  fire  became  so  warm  that  they 
were  compelled  to  back  out,  chopfallen,  and  they 
had  the  satisfaction  of  having  their  defeat  an- 
nounced to  all  on  board  by  three-times-three  cheers 
from  the  victors,  accompanied  with  the  clapping  of 
hands  and  such  other  noises  as  each  and  all  could 
invent  in  our  zeal  to  outdo  one  another  and  uphold 
the  honor  of  the  country  we  hailed  from,  whose  em- 
blem is  the  Stars  and  Stripes. 

"  Word  came  from  the  deck  that  such  noises 
could  not  be  tolerated  and  that  we  must  be  quiet. 
This  only  aroused  the  prisoners  to  greater  exertions. 
...  In  a  few  minutes  the  officer  of  the  deck  came 
down  with  blustering  threats.  If  the  most  savage 
tribe  of  Indians  had  at  once  broken  loose  with  a 
terrific  war  whoop  it  could  not  have  been  louder  nor 
more  grating  to  the  ear  than  the  screamings  that 
followed  the  termination  of  the  watch  officer's 
speech,  who,  when  he  could  get  a  hearing,  tried  to 
reason  as  to  the  absurdity  of  the  prisoners  persist- 

390  THE  PRINCE  DE  NEUCHlTEL.  1814-1815. 

ing,  saying, '  The  order  of  the  ship  must  and  shall  be 
maintained;  if  by  no  other  means,  I  will  order  the 
marines  to  fire  into  the  hold.'  This  threat  also  was 
responded  to  by  jeers,  and  soon  afterward  a  line  of 
marines  drew  up  at  the  hatchway  and  prepared  to 
shoot.  This  menace  was  met  with  louder  jeers  than 

"' Crack  away,  my  Johnny!  You  can  make  killing 
no  murder,  but  you  can't  easily  mend  the  shot  holes 
in  your  best  bower  cable!'  *  Hurrah  for  Old  Iron- 
sides!' ' Three  cheers  for  the  gallant  Perry!' 
( Down  here,  you  Johnny  Bull,  and  learn  manners 
from  your  betters!'  were  a  few  of  the  shouts  that 
saluted  the  ears  of  the  marines.  The  officer,  not 
daring  to  fire  on  the  prisoners,  now  withdrew  his 
marines,  and  was  followed  by  the  derisive  shouts  of 
the  prisoners.  .  .  .  The  noises  were  kept  up  till 
morning  broke,  not  allowing  the  wardroom  officers  a 
moment's  rest,  as  they  were  situated  on  the  deck 
immediately  above  us."  The  next  night  the  prison- 
ers began  their  pandemonium  again,  but  the  officers 
arranged  a  number  of  42-pound  shot  on  the  deck,  just 
over  the  prisoners'  heads,  and  started  them  rolling. 
"  As  they  passed  from  one  side  to  the  other,  at  each 
roll  of  the  ship,  with  a  low,  harsh,  thunder-like  rum- 
bling, as  deafening  as  dreadful,  and  more  horrible 
than  the  booming  of  ten  thousand  Chinese  gongs,  in- 
termingling with  as  many  bell  clappers,  set  in  mo- 
tion by  one  who  is  sworn  to  drown  all  else  by  his 
own  noisy  clatter,  they  made  a  noise  little  less  than 
a  discharge  of  artillery."  This  proved  to  be  too 
much  for  our  gallant  tars,  and  they  gradually  gave 
up  the  contest. 

Arriving  at  Fayal,  Sir  George  transferred  his 
prisoners  to  the  sloop  of  war  Pheasant,  in  which 
they  were  taken  to  England,  while  he  resumed  his 
search  for  the  Constitution.1 

»  See  Maclay's  History  of  the  Navy,  vol.  i,  pp.  6S2-639. 



THE  escape  of  the  United  States  44-gun  frigate 
Constitution,  Captain  Isaac  Hull,  from  a  powerful 
British  squadron  off  Sandy  Hook,  early  in  the  War 
of  1812,  has  justly  been  regarded  as  one  of  most 
extraordinary  feats  of  seamanship  on  record.  Cap- 
tain Hull  won  for  himself  and  the  service  lasting 
fame  by  his  masterly  handling  of  the  Constitution, 
and  it  is  interesting  to  record  that  probably  the 
nearest  approach  to  this  famous  chase  was  that  of 
the  American  privateer  Grand  Turk  by  a  British 
squadron,  March,  1815,  off  Pernambuco,  in  which 
the  privateer  escaped  only  by  the  superb  seaman- 
ship of  her  commander,  Nathan  Green. 

The  Grand  Turk,  a  310-ton  ship,  was  built  for  a 
privateer  in  the  shipyards  of  Salem  by  Elias  Basket 
Derby  toward  the  close  of  the  Revolution,  and  made 
a  number  of  prizes.  "  The  war  being  over,"  wrote 
Thomas  Wentworth  Higginson,  "she  was  sent  by 
her  owner  on  the  first  American  voyage  to  the  Cape 
of  Good  Hope  in  1781,  the  cargo  consisting  largely 
of  rum.  The  voyage  proved  profitable,  and  Captain 
Jonathan  Ingersoll,  her  commander,  bought  in  the 
West  Indies  on  his  return  enough  of  Grenada  rum 
to  load  two  vessels,  sent  home  the  Grand  Turk,  and 
came  himself  in  the  Atlantic.  On  the  way  he  rescued 
the  captain  and  mate  of  an  English  schooner,  the 
Amity,  whose  crew  had  mutinied  and  set  them  adrift 
in  a  boat  By  one  of  those  singular  coincidences 

392  CRUISES  OF  THE  GRAND  TURK.  1813. 

of  which  maritime  life  then  seemed  to  yield  so  many, 
this  very  schooner  was  afterward  recaptured  in 
Salem  harbor  in  this  way:  After  their  arrival  the 
captain  of  the  Amity  was  sitting  with  Mr.  Derby  in 
his  countingroom,  and  presently  saw  through  the 
spyglass  his  own  vessel  in  the  offing.  Mr.  Derby 
promptly  put  two  pieces  of  ordnance  on  board  one 
of  his  brigs,  and  gave  the  English  captain  the  un- 
looked-for pleasure  of  recapturing  the  Amity,  whose 
mutineers  had  no  reason  to  suppose  that  they 
should  happen  upon  the  precise  port  into  which 
their  victims  had  been  carried.  This  was  not  the 
only  pioneer  expedition  of  the  Grand  Turk,  which 
also  made,  in  1785-'86,  the  first  voyage  direct  from 
New  England  to  the  Isle  of  France  and  China." 

When  the  War  of  1812  broke  out  the  Grand  Turk 
was  refitted  as  a  privateer,  carrying  eighteen  guns 
and  a  complement  of  one  hundred  and  fifty  men. 
At  first  she  had  as  her  commander  Holten  J.  Breed, 
but  toward  the  close  of  the  war  she  was  commanded 
by  Nathan  Green.  Her  first  venture  was  made  early 
in  1813,  when  she  ran  down  to  the  coast  of  Brazil, 
cruised  some  time  in  the  West  Indies,  and  late  in 
May  put  into  Portland,  Maine.  In  this  time  the 
Grand  Turk  captured  three  large  vessels  carrying 
heavy  armaments  and  a  schooner,  all  of  which  were 
ordered  to  France. 

In  her  second  cruise,  which  was  begun  in  July, 
1813,  the  Grand  Turk  made  directly  for  European 
waters.  On  her  voyage  across  the  Atlantic  she  cap- 
tured the  schooner  Rebecca,  from  Halifax  bound  for 
Bermuda,  laden  with  live  stock  and  provisions, 
which  was  sent  into  Portsmouth.  Reaching  the 
other  side  of  the  ocean,  the  Grand  Turk  cruised  for 
twenty  days  in  the  chops  of  the  English  Channel 
without  meeting  a  British  war  craft  of  any  descrip- 
tion. She  came  across  many  of  their  merchantmen, 
however,  and  took,  in  rapid  succession,  the  schooner 
Agnes,  laden  with  fish,  which  was  sent  into  a  French 

1813.  A  LUCKY  CRUISE.  393 

port;  the  ship  William,  of  ten  guns,  having  a  valu- 
able cargo  of  drygoods,  crates,  wine,  etc.,  from 
Cork  for  Buenos  Ayres,  which  was  sent  into  Salem; 
the  brig  Indian  Lass,  from  Liverpool  for  St.  Michael, 
with  drygoods,  which  also  was  sent  into  Salem  with 
thirty  prisoners;  the  brig  Catharine,  from  Lisbon  for 
London;  and  the  schooner  Britannia,  for  the  West 
Indies,  which  was  sent  into  Portland.  The  Catha- 
rine shortly  afterward  was  recaptured  by  the  Eng- 
lish brig  of  war  Bacchus,  but  before  the  prize  could 
gain  port  the  Grand  Turk  again  loomed  up  on  her 
horizon  and  seized  her  for  the  second  time.  To  make 
sure  that  she  would  not  again  fall  into  the  hands 
of  the  enemy,  the  Americans,  after  taking  out  the 
most  valuable  portion  of  the  cargo,  burned  her. 

Continuing  her  cruise  in  English  waters,  the 
Grand  Turk  added  to  her  list  of  valuable  prizes  the 
sloop  Caroline,  from  London  for  St.  Michael,  laden 
with  drygoods.  The  cargo  was  transferred  to  the 
privateer,  but  the  sloop  being  of  little  value,  and 
the  prisoners  in  the  privateer  becoming  so  numer- 
ous as  to  be  dangerous,  the  Caroline  was  released 
and  ordered  to  the  nearest  port  with  the  prisoners. 
Soon  afterward  the  privateer  captured  the  merchant- 
man Cossack,  laden  with  wine.  This  vessel  was  re- 
captured by  the  74-gun  ship  of  the  line  Bulwark,  but, 
like  the  Catharine,  was  again  captured  by  the  Ameri- 
cans; this  time  by  the  privateer  Surprise,  of  Balti- 
more, and  was  sent  into  Salem.  After  burning  or 
sinking  the  schooner  Pink;  the  brig  Brothers,  from 
St.  John's  for  Liverpool,  with  lumber  aboard;  the 
brig  Robert  Stewart,  also  with  lumber;  the  schooner 
Commerce,  laden  with  fish;  and  releasing  the  brig 
Belgrade,  from  Malta  for  Falmouth — after  taking 
some  guns  out  of  her — the  Grand  Turk  returned  to 
Salem  in  November,  1813,  having  made  a  cruise  of 
one  hundred  and  three  days,  and  with  only  forty- 
four  men  of  her  original  complement  of  one  hundred 
and  fifty  left.  One  of  her  prizes  had  a  cargo  in- 




voiced  at  thirty  thousand  pounds  sterling.  This  pri- 
vateer made  one  or  two  more  short  runs  to  sea  with 
fairly  good  success,  but  it  was  on  her  last  cruise, 
when  under  the  command  of  Captain  Nathan  Green, 
that  she  made  her  greatest  reputation. 

Scene  of  the  Grand  Turk's  operations. 

Half  an  hour  after  noon  on  Sunday,  January  1, 
1815,  Captain  Green  stowed  his  anchors  away  and 
cleared  his  deck  preparatory  for  sailing  from  Salem, 
and  at  2  p.  M.  he  passed  Baker's  Island.  Nothing 
more  than  an  occasional  glimpse  of  a  British  frig- 
ate or  a  ship  of  the  line,  to  which  the  Grand  Turk 
promptly  showed  a  clean  pair  of  heels,  served  to 
break  the  monotony  of  the  cruise  until  3.30  P.  M., 
February  17th,  when  the  privateer  was  in  the  vicin- 
ity of  Pernambuco.  At  that  time  a  small  sail  was 
sighted,  which  proved  to  be  a  catamaran,  and  for 

1815.  WAITING  FOR  THE  ENEMY.  395 

the  purpose  of  gaining  information  as  to  the  pro- 
posed movements  of  British  merchant  ships  Cap- 
tain Green  boarded  her.  It  happened  that  the  craft 
had  just  left  the  port,  and  her  master  informed  the 
Americans  that  there  were  eight  English  vessels  in 
the  harbor,  some  of  them  ready  to  sail. 

This  was  the  news  Captain  Green  had  been  long- 
ing for,  and  he  determined  to  hover  off  the  port  until 
some  of  the  ships  sailed.  At  six  o'clock  that  even- 
ing he  had  approached  sufficiently  near  Pernam- 
buco  to  distinguish  the  shipping.  Two  days  later, 
or  at  5.30  P.  M.,  Sunday,  February  19th,  his  patience 
was  rewarded  by  a  sail  appearing  to  the  north. 
Gradually  drawing  up  on  her  during  the  night,  he, 
at  nine  o'clock  on  the  following  rnoraing,  boarded 
the  brig  Joven  Francisco,  sailing  under  Spanish  colors 
from  Pernambuco  to  London,  but  laden  with  a  cargo 
of  tea,  coffee,  sugar,  and  cinnamon  consigned  to 
British  merchants.  From  her  invoices  and  some 
letters  found  aboard,  Captain  Green  was  satisfied 
that  the  Spanish  flag  had  been  used  merely  as  a 
cover,  and  that  the  craft  and  her  cargo  were  in  truth 
English  property.  Accordingly  he  seized  her  as  a 
prize  and  placed  Nathaniel  Archer  and  some  of  his 
men  aboard,  with  orders  to  make  for  the  United 

Scarcely  had  the  last  speck  of  the  Joven  Francisco 
faded  from  the  horizon  when  the  people  in  the  pri- 
vateer were  cheered  by  the  sight  of  another  sail,  this 
one  to  the  south,  standing  northward.  Observing 
that  she  was  coming  directly  upon  the  privateer, 
Captain  Green  allowed  her  to  approach,  and  at  6.30 
p.  M.,  February  21st,  he  boarded  her.  She  was  found 
to  be  the  British  ship  Active  Jane,  of  Liverpool,  from 
Kio  Janeiro  bound  for  Maranham.  She  had  on 
board  seven  bags  of  specie,  containing  fourteen 
thousand  milled  rees,  which  were  valued  at  about 
seventeen  thousand  five  hundred  dollars.  A  prize 
crew  was  placed  aboard,  with  orders  to  keep  near 

396  CRUISES  OF  THE  GRAND  TURK  1815. 

the  Grand  Turk  during  the  night.  At  daylight  on 
tHe  following  morning  Captain  Green  made  a  more 
thorough  search  of  his  prize,  but  finding  nothing 
else  of  much  value,  he  transferred  the  specie  to  his 
vessel  and  scuttled  the  merchantman. 

From  this  time  until  March  10th  the  Grand  Turk 
cruised  in  this  vicinity,  occasioning  much  damage 
to  the  enemy's  commerce.  She  stayed  so  long,  how- 
ever, that  the  English  had  time  to  collect  several 
war  ships,  which  were  promptly  sent  out  to  capture 
the  bold  privateersman.  Captain  Green  was  fully 
alive  to  the  growing  danger  of  his  position,  and 
when  at  daylight,  Friday,  March  10th,  the  man  at 
the  masthead  reported  a  sail  in  the  eastern  quarter, 
he  promptly  called  all  hands  and  sent  them  to 

Thinking  that  the  stranger  might  be  a  merchant- 
man, Captain  Green  cautiously  ran  down  to  her,  but 
soon  afterward  he  discovered  another  sail,  this  one 
being  on  the  weather  bow.  This  did  not  deter  the 
Grand  Turk  from  continuing  her  approach  to  the 
first  stranger,  and  she  was  fast  drawing  near  to  her, 
when,  at  6.30  A.  M.,  she  passed  very  near  the  second 
stranger.  Captain  Green  stopped  only  long  enough 
to  be  satisfied  that  she  was  a  Portuguese  schooner. 
At  seven  o'clock  a  third  stranger  was  made  out  from 
the  Grand  Turk's  masthead  three  points  off  the  lee 
bow.  By  this  time  the  chase  was  seen  to  be  a  full- 
rigged  ship,  a  fact  that  made  Captain  Green  more 
cautious  in  approaching,  but  did  not  prevent  him 
from  continuing  the  chase. 

By  8  A.  M.  the  third  stranger  was  seen  to  be  a 
large,  full-rigged  ship  also,  standing  by  the  wind  to 
the  northwest.  With  increasing  anxiety  Captain 
Green  continued  the  chase  after  the  first  stranger 
and  gradually  drew  up  on  her,  but  at  ten  o'clock, 
when  he  had  reached  a  position  three  quarters  of  a 
mile  to  windward,  he  became  satisfied  that  the  chase 
was  a  frigate  endeavoring  to  decoy  the  privateer 

1815.  A  HAED  CHASE.  39Y 

under  her  guns.  Captain  Green  was  not  to  be 
caught  by  such  a  simple  trick  as  that,  and  in  an 
instant  the  Grand  Turk  tacked  and  made  all  sail  to 
escape.  With  equal  celerity  the  British  frigate — 
for  such  she  proved  to  be — tacked  also  and  was 
spreading  every  sail  that  would  draw. 

It  did  not  take  the  privateer  long  to  demonstrate 
her  superior  sailing  qualities,  and  in  less  than  an 
hour  she  had  so  increased  her  lead  on  the  enemy 
as  to  relieve  Captain  Green  of  all  fear  of  capture; 
thereupon  he  ran  up  the  American  flag  and  fired  a 
shot  in  defiance.  But  at  this  juncture  the  wind, 
most  unfortunately  for  the  privateer,  suddenly 
hauled  around  to  the  west,  which  was  very  favor- 
able for  the  frigate,  and  in  a  short  time  enabled  her 
to  approach  dangerously  near.  At  11.30  A.  M.,  find- 
ing that  the  Englishman  was  within  gunshot  and 
was  slowly  getting  alongside,  Captain  Green  got 
out  his  sweeps.  By  urging  his  men  to  their  utmost 
exertion  he  made  considerable  progress,  notwith- 
standing the  fact  that,  though  it  was  calm  where 
the  Grand  Turk  was,  there  was  a  choppy  head  sea. 

Observing  that  the  American  was  slipping  from 
his  grasp,  the  Englishman  began  firing  with  his 
chase  guns,  and  manning  all  his  boats,  sent  them 
ahead  to  tow.  Four  different  times  the  frigate  at- 
tempted to  tack,  but  without  success.  In  the  hope 
of  damaging  the  enemy's  rigging,  Captain  Green 
opened  on  the  frigate  with  his  long  guns  and  again 
hoisted  his  colors.  About  this  time  a  ship  was  dis- 
covered to  leeward  which  also  proved  to  be  a  Brit- 
ish frigate,  and  joined  in  the  pursuit  of  the  priva- 
teer. At  noon  Captain  Green  swept  his  brig  round 
with  her  head  northward,  and  having  a  more  favor^. 
able  sea,  managed  to  increase  his  lead  on  the  enemy. 

In  this  manner  the  chase  was  kept  up  all  that 
night,  and  the  following  day,  March  llth,  the  Ameri* 
cans  were  making  every  exertion  at  their  sweeps, 
while  the  British  were  equally  diligent  in  endeav- 

398  CRUISES  OF  THE  GRAND  TURK.  1815. 

oring  to  tow  their  ships  within  gunshot.  The 
weather  all  this  time  was  extremely  warm  and 
sultry,  which  made  it  especially  trying  on  the  Ameri- 
can crew.  The  British,  having  a  larger  complement 
of  men,  were  enabled  to  form  relief  crews.  At  dusk, 
Saturday,  March  lljth,  the  enemy  made  a  great 
effort  to  get  within  range,  but  the  vigilant  Ameri- 
cans were  equal  to  the  emergency,  and  by  putting 
forth  renewed  efforts  managed  to  hold  their  own. 

When  Sunday,  March  12th,  dawned,  Captain 
Green  was  much  relieved  to  find  that  the  enemy  was 
out  of  sight;  but  at  1.30  P.  M.  the  two  frigates,  fa- 
vored by  a  breeze  that  did  not  reach  the  Grand  Turk, 
hove  in  sight  again  off  the  lee  bow  and  gradually 
drew  up  on  the  chase.  By  five  o'clock  the  wind  had 
died  out  and  the  Americans  again  took  to  their 
sweeps.  During  the  night,  by  ceaseless  applica- 
tion of  the  sweeps,  the  privateer  gained  so  much  as 
to  be  out  of  sight  of  her  pursuers  when  day  broke. 
At  two  o'clock  on  Monday  afternoon,  not  having  seen 
anything  of  the  enemy  for  some  time,  Captain  Green 
employed  all  hands  in  getting  down  the  fore-top- 
mast, which  had  been  strained  in  the  chase,  and 
replacing  it  with  a  new  one.  While  busy  at  this 
task  a  sail  was  descried  to  the  northwest,  and  at 
four  o'clock  another  was  observed  standing  for  the 
privateer.  By  half  past  five  Captain  Green  had  his 
new  fore-topmast  and  topgallant  mast  in  place, 
rigged  and  yards  aloft.  He  then  made  sail  for  the 
second  stranger,  and  at  seven  o'clock  boarded  her. 
She  proved  to  be  a  Portuguese  brig  from  Bnhia  bound 
for  La  Grande,  with  a  cargo  of  salt.  Captain  Green 
took  this  opportunity  of  placing  five  British  prison- 
ers, under  parole,  in  this  vessel,  and,  discharging  ten 
Spaniards,  he  placed  them  aboard  the  brig  with  the 
necessary  supply  of  provisions  and  resumed  his 

•  After  this  narrow  escape  the  Grand  Turk  saw 
nothing  more  of  the  British  frigates  until  five  days 

1815.  "A  SQUARE  YAEDAEM  FIGHT."  399 

later,  when  her  intrepid  commander,  unruffled  by 
the  danger  he  had  escaped,  persisted  in  remaining 
in  these  waters.  At  two  o'clock  on  the  afternoon  of 
Saturday,  March  18th,  Captain  Green  overhauled 
and  spoke  a  Portuguese  brig  from  Africa  bound  for 
Kio  Janeiro  with  a  cargo  of  slaves.  At  this  moment 
another  sail  to  the  northwest  was  reported  from 
the  masthead,  and  away  went  the  privateer  in  chase 
of  it.  As  the  American  gradually  overhauled  the 
stranger  it  became  more  and  more  evident  that  she 
was  a  ship  of  force,  and  at  half  past  four  o'clock  she 
hoisted  English  colors  and  began  firing  her  stern 
guns.  No  attention  was  paid  to  this  by  the  Ameri- 
cans, who  kept  silently  and  persistently  in  the  wake 
of  the  chase,  confident  in  their  ability  to  overtake 

Forty  minutes  later  the  stranger  took  in  her 
steering  sails,  gave  a  broad  yaw,  and  fired  a  broad- 
side. Upon  this  invitation  to  a  square  yardarm  fight 
the  Grand  Turk  promptly  followed  the  maneuver 
and  opened  with  her  port  battery,  and  maintained 
such  a  heavy  fire  that  in  ten  minutes  the  English- 
man struck.  On  taking  possession,  the  Americans 
found  her  to  be  the  British  brig  Acorn,  from  Liver- 
pool, bound  for  Rio  Janeiro.  The  prize  carried  four- 
teen 12-pounders,  and  had  a  cargo  of  drygoods.  No 
time  was  lost  in  getting  the  cargo  aboard  the  priva- 
teer, for  Captain  Green  well  knew  that  British 
cruisers  were  swarming  in  this  part  of  the  ocean. 
In  twenty  minutes  the  first  boat  load  of  goods  was 
brought  aboard  the  Grand  Turk.  All  night  long  the 
crew  was  kept  busy  transferring  the  merchandise, 
but  at  daylight  Sunday  morning  the  work  was  in- 
terrupted by  the  appearance  of  two  frigates  and  a 
war  brig  in  full  chase  of  the  privateer,  and  on  her 
lee  beam.  These  frigates  proved  to  be  the  same 
that  had  given  the  Grand  Turk  such  a  hard  and  per- 
sistent chase  the  week  before.  Taking  a  "very  full 
boat  load  of  goods  on  board,"  Captain  Green  placed 



Joseph  Phippen  and  eleven  men  aboard  the  Acorn, 
with  orders  to  make  for  the  United  States,  and  then 
gave  attention  to  his  own  safety.  As  the  wind  was 
fair,  he  soon  found  that  he  was  drawing  away  from 
the  frigates,  and  by  nightfall  he  had  run  them  out 

of  sight. 

Having  had  a  tolerably  successful  cruise  of 
nearly  three  months,  and  believing  that  the  treaty  of 
peace,  signed  at  Ghent,  would  be  ratified,  Captain 
Green  decided  to  return  home.  Another  reason  for 
terminating  his  cruise  was  the  fact  that  the  Grand 
Turk's  copper  and  rigging  were  very  much  out  of 
repair  and  she  was  running  short  of  water. 

While  homeward  bound  Captain  Green,  at  four 
o'clock  in  the  morning  of  March  29th,  discovered  a 
sail  to  windward,  and,  believing  that  he  might  take 
another  prize,  tacked  in  pursuit.  At  half  past  eight 
he  came  up  with  the  stranger,  which  proved  to 
be  a  Portuguese  ship  from  Africa  for  Maranham, 
with  nearly  five  hundred  slaves  aboard.  Captain 
Green  took  this  opportunity  of  releasing  on  parole 
eleven  British  prisoners  who  were  placed  aboard 
the  Portuguese. 

Resuming  her  course  northward,  the  Grand  Turk, 
on  April  16th,  boarded  the  American  schooner 
Comet,  from  Alexandria  for  Barbadoes,  with  a  cargo 
of  flour,  and  learned  that  peace  between  the  United 
States  and  England  had  been  concluded.  Captain 
Green  notes  that  this  announcement  "  produced  the 
greatest  rejoicing  throughout  the  ship's  company." 
On  Saturday,  April  29th,  the  Grand  Turk  dropped 
anchor  in  Salem  harbor,  cleared  decks,  and  saluted 
the  town,  thus  completing  a  cruise  of  one  hundred 
and  eighteen  days.  This  privateer  captured,  in  the 
course  of  the  war,  three  ships,  twelve  brigs,  seven 
schooners,  and  eight  sloops.  On  May  30,  1815,  the 
Grand  Turk  was  sold  to  William  Gray,  of  Salem,  and 
for  some  time  was  employed  as  a  merchantman. 



ON  the  last  day  of  March,  1814,  four  American 
captains  in  the  privateer  service  met  at  Hotel  des 
Ambassadeurs  in  the  important  seaport  town  of  La 
Rochelle.  They  were  Jeremiah  Mantor,  of  the  Bos- 
ton privateer  Ida,  David  Maffltt,  of  the  Rattlesnake, 
from  Philadelphia;  George  Coggeshall,  of  the  David 
Porter,  from  New  York;  and  Mr.  Brown,  of  the  Deca- 
tur,  from  Portsmouth.  Thus  were  four  of  the  prin- 
cipal seaport  cities  of  the  United  States  represented 
at  this  meeting.  All  of  these  commanders  had  their 
ships  in  La  Eochelle  excepting  Coggeshall,  who 
had  come  to  this  place  overland  looking  for  means 
of  transportation  home  for  some  valuable  cargo. 
There  was  also  in  La  Eochelle  an  American  mer- 
chant brig  belonging  to  New  York,  which  had  been 
laid  up  there  from  the  beginning  of  the  war.  At 
this  time  the  political  situation  of  France,  and  of 
Europe  too,  was  one  of  great  uncertainty  and  sus- 
pense. The  allied  armies  were  close  upon  Paris,  if 
not  actually  within  the  city,  but  as  yet  the  exact 
state  of  affairs  was  not  known  in  La  Eochelle.  Not 
the  slightest  information  on  the  subject  could  be 
obtained.  All  communication  between  Paris  and 
La  Eochelle  had  been  stopped  some  time  before, 
not  a  diligence  being  allowed  to  run  on  the  road 
between  the  two  points.  Everybody  knew  that  the 
allied  armies  were  in  the  neighborhood  of  Paris,  but 
no  one  dared  to  speak  on  the  subject. 


402  ESCAPE  OF  THE  IDA.  1814. 

This  state  of  anxiety  and  suspense  was  rendered 
doubly  critical  to  the  American  officers  by  the  fact 
that  a  powerful  British  blockading  squadron,  com- 
manded by  Lord  Keith  in  the  ship  of  line  Queen  Char- 
lotte, consisting  of  five  ships  of  the  line,  several  frig- 
ates, and  a  number  of  war  brigs  and  schooners,  com- 
pletely blocked  the  entrance  of  the  harbor,  making 
it  extremely  difficult,  if  not  foolhardy,  for  any  of 
the  four  American  vessels  in  that  port  to  attempt  to 
get  to  sea.  On  the  other  hand,  if  these  vessels  re- 
mained in  port,  their  commanders  had  no  assurance 
whatever  that  British  influence  —  which  in  case 
Paris  fell  would  be  all-powerful  in  the  new  Govern- 
ment to  be  established — would  not  bring  about  the 
confiscation  of  their  ships  and  cargoes.  In  short, 
the  four  Americans,  although  having  entered  a 
friendly  port,  suddenly  found  themselves  in  a  trap 
from  which  there  seemed  to  be  not  the  slightest 
prospect  of  escape.  They  were  menaced  both  from 
the  land  and  sea,  and  their  meeting  at  Hotel  des 
Ambassadeurs  was,  in  fact,  a  council  of  war.  As 
the  danger  of  capture  seemed  equally  imminent 
from  sea  and  land,  they  were  not  long  in  deciding 
to  take  their  chances  on  the  former  as  being  best 
suited  to  the  salty  nature  of  honorable  tars. 

Captain  Maffitt,  whose  noteworthy  career  in  the 
Atlas  and  Rattlesnake  we  have  followed,  had  recently 
arrived  from  his  northern  cruise,  and,  as  it  had  been 
one  of  extraordinary  success,  the  English  were  par- 
ticularly anxious  to  put  an  end  to  the  cruises  of  the 
mischief -making  Rattlesnake.  Just  before  entering 
this  port  the  privateer  had  a  desperate  battle  with 
the  heavily  armed  British  transport  Mary,  the  result 
of  which  was  highly  exasperating  to  our  cousins. 
The  Mary  was  from  Sicily,  bound  for  England,  and 
had  on  board  as  prisoners  sixty -two  French  offi- 
cers, guarded  by  several  English  army  officers  and 
a  detachment  of  soldiers.  The  two  vessels  met  in 
the  Bay  of  Biscay,  and  immediately  engaged  in  bat- 

ESCAPE  OP  THE  EDA.  1814. 

manders  to  action,  and  they  resolved  to  sail  their 
vessels  out  of  the  port  at  all  hazards  and  make  a 
bold  dash  for  liberty.  All  their  vessels  were  swift 
craft,  designed  especially  for  speed  and  convenience 
in  cruising  and  eluding  ships  of  greater  force.  The 
Ida  was  a  fine,  coppered  brig  of  two  hundred  and 
seventy-two  tons,  mounting  eight  long  9-pounders 
and  12-pounders,  with  a  complement  of  thirty-five 

Early  on  the  morning  of  April  8th  the  three 
American  privateers — the  Rattlesnake,  the  Ida,  and 
the  Decatur — each  fully  prepared  for  a  race  or  fight, 
tripped  anchor  and  stood  down  the  harbor  to  run 
the  blockade  if  an  opportunity  should  offer.  They 
stood  down  with  the  wind  on  the  north  side  of  Pile 
de  R6,  an  island  just  off  the  mainland,  hoping  to 
escape  through  that  passage.  But  unexpectedly 
they  found  a  strong  English  naval  force  stationed 
there,  and  were  compelled  to  fall  back,  the  Rattle- 
snake and  Decatur  returning  to  their  anchorages. 

The  Ida,  however,  lay  to  off  the  east  end  of  the 
island  long  enough  to  discharge  her  pilot,  and  then 
squared  away  and  made  a  bold  dash  down  the 
south  side  of  the  island  in  plain  sight  of  the  entire 
British  fleet  at  anchor  in  the  roads  off  La  Rochelle. 
The  English  admiral  apparently  was  taken  some- 
what by  surprise  by  the  sudden  change  of  course 
made  by  the  Ida.  In  fact,  Captain  Mantor  was  tak- 
ing desperate  chances,  for  he  was  compelled  to  pass 
within  a  short  distance  of  the  British  fleet;  and  even 
if  he  ran  this  gantlet  in  safety  he  was  obliged  to 
meet  a  heavy  war  schooner  at  the  end  of  the  island. 
On  the  other  hand,  Captain  Mantor  saw  that  the 
chances  of  his  capture,  should  he  endeavor  to  re- 
gain his  anchorage,  were  great,  and  observing  that, 
as  the  tide  was  then  holding  the  ponderous  ships 
of  the  line  at  anchor,  they  could  scarcely  bring  a 
gun  to  bear  on  the  course  he  proposed  to  take  in  his 
dash  for  liberty,  he  decided  on  the  lesser  evil  of  the 

1814.  IN  THE  ENEMY'S  TOILS.  405 

two.  The  very  boldness  of  his  decision  was  his  main 
reliance  in  effecting  his  escape,  for,  as  he  rightly 
conjectured,  the  English  were  taken  by  surprise,  and 
not  one  of  the  huge  ships  of  the  line  was  able  to 
give  him  a  shot  as  he  passed  them.  One  of  them 
slipped  her  cable,  however,  and  soon  had  settled 
down  to  a  determined  chase. 

Just  as  the  little  Ida,  with  the  gigantic  ship  of 
the  line  tumbling  after  her,  passed  the  south  end 
of  the  island,  Captain  Mantor  discovered  a  war 
schooner  on  his  starboard  side  making  for  him  from 
the  cover  of  the  island.  If  the  Ida  changed  her 
course  she  would  give  the  huge  ship  of  the  line,  al- 
ready uncomfortably  close  in  her  wake,  a  chance 
to  gain  a  quarter  of  a  mile  or  more.  This  was  a 
period  of  the  chase  when  even  such  a  short  distance 
might  turn  the  balance.  On  the  other  hand,  if  the 
Ida  held  on  her  present  course  she  would  be  com- 
pelled to  pass  within  musket  shot  of  the  schooner, 
so  that  the  latter,  in  all  probability,  would  shoot 
away  some  of  the  privateer's  spars,  and  so  cripple 
her  rigging  that  she  would  fall  an  easy  prey.  Cap- 
tain Mantor  determined  to  continue  on  the  course  he 
was  then  holding.  In  a  few  minutes  he  was  within 
musket  shot  of  the  schooner,  which  let  go  all  the 
guns  she  could  bring  to  bear,  carrying  away  the 
Ida's  studding-sail  boom,  mainstay,  and  some  run- 
ning rigging.  This  damage  was  anticipated,  and  the 
Americans  had  made  every  preparation  for  it,  so 
that  in  an  incredibly  short  time  they  had  everything 
tight  again  and  the  studding  sail  reset. 

At  this  time  several  men-of-war  were  within  gun- 
shot of  the  Ida,  and  were  peppering  away  at  her  with 
all  their  chase  guns.  The  Americans  were  too  busy, 
however,  looking  out  for  their  sails,  rigging,  and 
spars  to  pay  any  attention  to  these  little  pleasant- 
ries, and  kept  on  their  course  in  watchful  silence. 
Soon  after  passing  the  schooner  Captain  Mantor  dis- 
covered another  war  ship  bearing  down  on  his  star- 

406  ESCAPE  Ofl  THE  IDA.  1814. 

board  side,  and  he  nerved  himself  for  another  broad- 
side. He  now  determined  to  put  up  his  helm  and 
bring  all  his  pursuers  astern,  as  that  was  the  only 
course  left  to  him.  This  was  quickly  done,  and  the 
Ida  crossed  the  bow  of  the  last  ship  so  near  that  the 
Americans  could  distinctly  hear  her  seamen  halloo. 
This  ship,  as  soon  as  she  could  get  her  broadside  to 
bear,  let  go  her  compliments  at  the  Ida,  but  for- 
tunately most  of  the  shot  went  too  high.  One  32- 
pound  shot  passed  along  the  privateer's  deck  fore 
and  aft,  and  lodged  in  the  stern.  Another  carried 
away  the  anchor  as  it  hung  under  her  bow  ready  to 
let  go,  and  severed  the  chain.  Had  not  most  of  the 
crew  of  the  Ida  been  in  her  hold  at  that  time,  heav- 
ing out  ballast,  many  of  them  would  have  been 
killed  or  wounded. 

By  lightening  his  vessel  and  increasing  her  speed 
in  every  possible  way,  Captain  Mantor  gradually 
drew  out  of  gunshot,  although  by  nightfall  as  many 
as  ten  British  war  ships  were  in  full  chase.  The 
stubbornness  of  the  chase  is  shown  by  the  fact  that 
when  the  English  lost  trace  of  the  Ida  in  the  night 
they  spread  out  their  forces  so  that  some  of  their 
ships  were  sure  to  be  in  sight  of  the  audacious  pri- 
vateer on  the  following  morning.  How  well  they 
made  their  calculations  was  shown  at  daylight,  for 
as  soon  as  the  lookout  was  able  to  distinguish  any- 
thing at  a  distance  from  the  ship  he  saw  two  Brit- 
ish frigates  directly  ahead.  Captain  Mantor  quickly 
hauled  up  on  the  wind  to  avoid  them.  In  doing  this 
he  narrowly  escaped  capsizing  his  own  vessel,  for 
six  of  the  Ida's  eight  long  guns  had  been  thrown 
overboard  in  the  chase,  and  she  had  been  relieved  of 
so  much  ballast  as  to  make  carrying  a  press  of  sail 

As  soon  as  the  two  frigates  sighted  the  privateer 
they  were  after  her,  and  then  began  another  long 
chase.  All  that  morning  and  afternoon  the  three 
vessels  strained  and  bowed  under  clouds  of  canvas, 


each  doing  her  utmost  to  increase  speed.  As  night 
again  approached  it  was  seen  that  the  American 
had  increased  his  lead  some  four  or  five  miles,  but 
still  he  was  dangerously  near  the  enemy,  who  by 
again  dividing  their  forces  in  the  night  stood  a  toler- 
ably fair  chance  of  sighting  the  chase  at  the  break 
of  day. 

About  nine  o'clock  that  night  the  Ida  had  suc- 
ceeded in  concealing  herself  from  her  pursuers. 
Every  light  in  her  had  been  extinguished  save  those 
absolutely  necessary  for  navigating  the  ship,  and 
these  were  carefully  shielded  so  as  not  to  be  visible 
to  the  enemy.  Hopes  were  being  entertained  by  all 
on  board  that  they  would  actually  make  good  their 
escape  from  La  Rochelle,  when,  most  unfortunately, 
the  shutter  of  the  binnacle  fell,  revealing  the  light 
to  the  Englishmen.  At  this  instant  one  of  the  frig- 
ates was  astern  of  the  privateer  and  another  was  on 
her  lee  quarter,  and  the  chances  were  that  had  they 
not  seen  the  Ida's  binnacle  light  their  courses  would 
have  diverged  so  much  during  the  night  that  by 
morning  the  Americans  would  have  been  out  of 
sight.  As  soon  as  the  Englishmen  saw  the  light 
they  signaled  each  other  and  changed  their  courses 
so  as  to  surround  the  privateer.  As  quickly  as  pos- 
sible Captain  Mantor  had  the  shutter  replaced,  and 
again,  in  total  darkness,  the  three  vessels  bowled 
along  over  the  waves  under  the  heaviest  press  of 
sail.  At  daylight,  April  10th,  Captain  Mantor  saw 
the  two  frigates,  hull  down,  and  in  the  course  of  the 
day  he  ran  them  out  of  sight,  arriving  safely  at 
Boston  after  a  passage  of  twenty-six  days. 

Soon  after  the  Ida  made  her  marvelous  escape 
from  the  harbor  of  La  Rochelle  the  Decatur  and  the 
Rattlesnake  seized  opportunities  for  getting  to  sea. 
The  former  was  captured  September  3, 1814,  by  the 
British  squadron,  and  the  Rattlesnake  was  taken  by 
the  frigate  Hyperion,  June  3, 1814. 



THAT  Salem  holds  a  unique  place  in  American 
ship  lore  must  be  apparent  even  to  the  casual  ob- 
server. Thomas  Wentworth  Higginson,  writing  of 
the  early  history  of  that  venerable  seaport,  says: 
"  Long  before  the  Revolution  a  plan  had  been  vague- 
ly sketched  out  by  which  Salem  was  to  obtain  some- 
thing of  that  share  in  the  India  trade  which  later 
events  brought  to  her.  In  an  old  letter  book  con- 
taining part  of  the  correspondence  that  passed  in 
1669  between  Lieutenant-Colonel  John  Higginson,  of 
Salem,  and  his  brother  Nathaniel — a  graduate  of 
Harvard  College  and  Governor  of  the  English  col- 
ony of  Madras — the  home-keeping  brother  suggests 
that  the  ex-Governor  should  make  the  Massachu- 
setts colony  the  seat  of  an  Oriental  commerce  by 
way  of  London,  and  thus  enumerates  the  resources 
of  such  a  traffic: '  All  sorts  of  calicoes,  aligers,  rem- 
walls,  muslin,  silks  for  clothing  and  linings;  all  sorts 
of  drugs  proper  for  the  apothecaries,  and  all  sorts 
of  spice,  are  vendible  with  us,  and  the  prices  of  them 
alter  much  according  as  they  were  plenty  or  scarce. 
In  the  late  war  time  all  East  India  goods  were  ex- 
tremely dear.  Muslins  of  the  best  sort,  plain, 
striped,  and  flowered,  were  sold  for  £10  per  piece, 
and  some  more.  Pepper,  3s.  per  pound;  nuts  [nut- 
megs], 10s.  per  pound;  cloves,  20,9.;  mace,  80s;  but 
now  are  abated  about  a  quarter  part  in  value.  Some 
of  the  china  ware,  toys,  and  lacquer  ware  will  sell 


1812-1815.  IMPORTANCE  OF  SALEM.  409 

well,  but  no  great  quantity.  As  for  ambergris,  we 
often  have  it  from  the  West  Indies,  and  it  is  sold 
for  about  3  per  ounce,  For  musk,  pearls,  and  dia- 
monds, I  believe  some  of  them  may  sell  well,  but  I 
understand  not  their  value.' 

"  Thus  early,  it  seems,  was  the  taste  for  Chinese 
and  Japanese  goods — germ  of  future  sestheticism — 
implanted  in  the  American  colonies;  but  when  it 
comes  to  pearls  and  diamonds,  the  quiet  Salem 
burgher,  descendant  of  three  generations  of  devout 
clergymen,  '  understands  not  their  value.'  Yet  he 
believes  that  some  of  them  will  sell  well,  even  in 

During  the  struggle  for  American  independence 
Salem  sent  out  one  hundred  and  fifty-eight  priva- 
teers, carrying  about  two  thousand  guns  which  took 
in  all  four  hundred  and  forty-five  prizes — more  than 
half  the  prizes  made  by  our  entire  maritime  forces 
in  this  war — only  fifty-four  of  the  privateers  being 
lost  by  capture  or  shipwreck.  In  short,  when  we 
remember  that  the  important  seaports  of  Boston, 
Newport,  New  York,  Philadelphia,  Charleston,  and 
Savannah  were  successively  in  the  hands  of  the 
enemy  during  that  struggle,  it  would  be  difficult  to 
understand  how  the  vast  maritime  operations  of  the 
rebelling  colonists  could  have  been  effectively  car- 
ried on  had  it  not  been  for  the  open  port  of  Salem. 

In  the  course  of  the  War  of  1812  Salem  sent 
forty  privateers  to  sea.  A  number  of  these  have 
been  noticed  in  other  chapters  as  being  well 
worthy  of  extended  notice,  but  many  of  the  others 
rendered  services  of  value,  notwithstanding  the  fact 
that  usually  they  were  small  vessels  mounting  one 
to  five  guns  and  manned  by  fewer  than  forty  men. 
Of  this  class  the  1-gun  schooner  Buckskin,  Captain 
I.  Bray,  may  be  taken  as  an  example.  In  one  cruise 
she  took  four  well-laden  schooners,  retook  a  Kenne- 
bunk  brig,  and  recaptured  the  American  brig  Hesper, 
which  had  been  seized  by  the  British  frigate  Maid- 

410  PKIVATEEES  OP  SALEM.  1812. 

stone.  Among  the  Buckskin's  prizes  was  the  schooner 
Nelson,  laden  with  oil,  furs,  fish,  etc.,  and  a  schooner 
from  Halifax  bound  for  Quebec,  laden  with  military 
stores  and  having  on  board  as  passengers  Colonel 
Pearson,  of  the  English  army,  his  wife  and  family. 
The  Buckskin  was  captured  early  in  the  war. 

More  successful  than  the  Buckskin  was  the  ship 
John,  Captain  J.  Crowninshield.  This  handsome  ves- 
sel was  heavily  armed  and  manned,  carrying  six- 
teen guns  and  a  complement  of  one  hundred  and 
sixty  men,  which  made  her  one  of  the  most  formi- 
dable privateers  afloat  at  the  beginning  of  the  war. 
After  a  short  cruise  of  about  three  weeks,  in  July, 
1812,  the  John  returned  to  port,  having  captured 
eleven  vessels,  of  which  three  were  destroyed  and 
one  was  recaptured.  Those  that  arrived  in  port 
were  the  brig  Ceres;  the  schooner  Union,  from  Ja- 
maica for  Quebec,  with  one  hundred  and  forty-six 
puncheons  of  rum  (the  vessel  and  cargo  being  esti- 
mated to  be  worth  thirty  thousand  dollars);  the  cop- 
pered brig  Elizabeth,  of  three  hundred  tons,  from 
Gibraltar  for  Quebec,  in  ballast,  carrying  four  guns 
and  twelve  men;  the  ship  Apollo,  of  four  hundred 
tons  and  mounting  eight  18-pounders;  and  a 
schooner  from  Jamaica  with  one  hundred  and  sixty 
puncheons  of  rum.  Three  brigs,  laden  with  lumber, 
were  captured,  but  as  they  were  inconvenient  to 
handle  they  were  released.  Afterward  the  John 
captured  the  valuable  brig  Henry,  from  Liverpool 
for  Halifax,  laden  with  crates,  salt,  and  coal;  the 
ship  Jane,  of  Port  Glasgow;  the  brig  Neptune,  a  new, 
light  brig  from  Gibraltar  bound  for  Halifax;  the 
schooner  Blonde,  from  Dominica  for  St.  John's;  and 
a  schooner  from  Jamaica  with  one  hundred  and 
sixty  puncheons  of  rum  aboard.  All  of  these  prizes 
reached  Salem  excepting  the  new  brig  from  Gibral- 
tar, which  was  sent  into  Boston.  The  John  shared 
the  fate  of  the  Buckskin,  being  captured  by  the  enemy 
early  in  the  war. 


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1812-1814.      CAREERS  OF   THJffi  AUT1YJG   AJNU  ALJJ'J&liiJJ. 

The  career  of  the  Active,  Captain  Patterson,  was 
short,  that  vessel  being  captured  July  16,  1812,  off 
Cape  Sable,  by  the  British  36-gun  frigate  Spartan, 
Captain  Brenton.  The  Active  was  a  schooner  carry- 
ing only  two  guns  and  a  complement  of  twenty  men. 
Two  days  later  the  Spartan  also  captured  the  priva- 
teer sloop  Actress,  Captain  GK  Lumsden,  of  New 
Haven.  The  sloop  carried  four  guns  and  fifty-three 
men.  She  had  been  in  commission  only  seven  days. 

The  Alfred,  Captain  Williams,  was  a  brig  of 
about  the  same  force  as  the  John,  mounting  sixteen 
guns  and  having  a  complement  of  one  hundred  and 
thirty  men.  She  sailed  from  Salem  on  a  cruise  Au- 
gust 16,  1812,  and  one  of  her  first  prizes  was  the 
brig  Diamond,  of  two  hundred  and  twenty  tons  and 
twelve  guns,  with  a  full  cargo  of  cotton  and  log- 
wood and  two  thousand  five  hundred  dollars  in  gold. 
Another  valuable  prize  was  the  brig  George,  of  two 
hundred  and  seventy  tons,  laden  with  sugar  and 
cotton.  Each  of  these  vessels  was  from  Brazil,  and 
they  were  valued  at  one  hundred  and  twenty  thou- 
sand dollars.  The  brig  Tercilla  and  the  Ciirfew  also 
were  taken  by  the  Alfred',  the  former,  laden  with  fish, 
from  St.  John's  bound  for  Bermuda,  was  burned  at 
sea,  and  the  latter,  from  Nova  Scotia  for  St.  Lucia, 
with  a  cargo  of  fish  and  oil,  was  sent  into  Marble- 
head.  The  Diamond  and  the  George  were  sent  into 
Salem.  On  February  23,  1814,  the  Alfred,  when 
three  months  out  on  her  last  cruise,  was  captured 
by  the  English  sloop  of  war  fipervier  and  the  frigate 

The  Thrasher  and  the  Terrible  seem  to  have  been 
most  formidable  in  their  names.  The  former,  com- 
manded by  Captain  E.  Evans,  took  the  brig  Tor  Abbey, 
laden  with  dry  fish,  which  was  sent  into  Cape  Ann, 
while  the  latter,  scarcely  more  than  an  open  boat, 
captured  a  schooner  laden  with  a  few  hogsheads  of 
rum  (which  was  sent  into  Eastport),  two  small  ves- 
sels (which  were  sent  into  Salem),  and  the  schooner 

412  PRIVATEERS  OP  SALEM.  1812-1815. 

Harmony,  of  Yarmouth,  Nova  Scotia,  which  also  was 
brought  safely  into  port.  The  Thrasher  also  cap- 
tured the  350-ton  ship  Britannia,  mounting  six  guns, 
and  sent  her  into  port. 

One  of  the  smallest  of  Salem's  privateers  was 
the  John  and  George,  carrying  only  one  12-pounder 
and  two  3-pounders,  with  a  complement  of  thirty- 
eight  all  told.  This  little  craft  made  several  valu- 
able captures,  among  them  being  the  ship  Ned,  of 
Glasgow,  carrying  ten  9-pounders — sufficient,  had 
they  been  fully  manned  and  handled,  to  have  blown 
the  puny  John  and  George  out  of  water — and  a  crew 
of  sixteen  men.  She  was  laden  with  timber,  and 
surrendered  after  a  sharp  fight.  She  was  sent  into 

The  privateer  schooner  Revenge,  Captain  J.  Sin- 
clair, sent  into  Portland  the  British  schooners  Robin 
and  Neptune  into  Cape  Ann,  the  latter  being  laden 
with  fish,  salt,  and  oil.  The  Revenge  also  captured 
the  brig  Bacchus,  of  Port  Glasgow,  and  sent  her  into 
Salem.  In  endeavoring  to  take  another  schooner 
the  Revenge  drove  her  ashore  on  the  coast  of  Nova 
Scotia  and  burned  her.  Not  long  after  this  the  Re- 
venge was  captured  by  the  enemy. 

The  GnncZer,  Captain  N.  Lindsey,  before  she  was 
captured  by  the  English,  was  a  fairly  successful 
craft.  She  sent  into  New  London  the  ship  Arabella, 
from  England  bound  for  the  West  Indies.  The 
Arabella  was  of  five  hundred  tons,  coppered,  mounted 
eight  guns,  and  in  every  respect  was  a  first-class  ves- 
sel. She  was  laden  with  plantation  utensils.  The 
Growler  also  took  a  brig,  which  was  released  after 
every  article  of  value  had  been  taken  out  of  her. 
Among  the  privateer's  other  prizes  were  the 
schooner  Prince  of  Wales  and  the  brig  Ann.  The 
schooner  was  released,  after  a  few  pipes  of  Madeira 
wine  had  been  taken  out  of  her,  as  being  of  more 
trouble  than  she  was  worth,  but  the  brig  was  sent 
into  Marblehead.  She  mounted  ten  guns,  and  was 

bound  for  New  Providence  from  Liverpool  with  a 
cargo  of  drygoods  and  crates  which  was  valued  at 
one  hundred  thousand  dollars.  On  July  7, 1813,  the 
Growler  was  captured  by  the  British  18-gun  sloop  of 
war  Electro,  off  St.  Peters,  after  a  chase  of  six  hours. 

The  Wasp,  Captain  E.  Ewing  (or  Ervin),  also  was 
a  Salem  privateer  that  was  captured  by  an  English 
cruiser,  but  not  until  she  inflicted  some  injury  on  the 
enemy's  commerce.  She  was  a  sloop  mounting  only 
two  guns.  After  sending  a  schooner  into  Machias 
she  was  chased  July  31  (by  another  account  June  9), 
1813,  by  the  British  man-of-war  Bream,  mounting 
ten  guns.  Realizing  the  helplessness  of  giving 
battle  to  the  cruiser,  Captain  Ewing  made  every 
effort  to  escape.  The  Bream  gave  chase,  and  for  nine 
hours  kept  the  Wasp  in  sight  and  gained  on  her. 
When  in  easy  gunshot  the  English  opened  a  heavy 
fire,  which  the  Americans  returned  as  well  as  they 
could  for  forty  minutes,  when  they  surrendered. 
The  British  lieutenant  commanding  the  Bream 
treated  his  prisoners  with  exceptional  courtesy. 

Among  the  privateers  of  Salem  lost  by  shipwreck 
were  the  Gallinipper  and  the  Dart.  The  former,  Cap- 
tain T.  Wellman,  captured  a  schooner,  which  was 
released  on  the  payment  of  ransom.  On  May  2, 
1813,  the  Gallinipper  was  chased  ashore  by  the  Eng- 
lish 20-gun  sloop  of  war  Rattler  and  destroyed.  The 
Dart,  Captain  William  Davis,  was  little  more  than 
an  open  boat,  and  was  cast  away  early  in  the  strug- 
gle. She  had  captured  the  snow  Friends,  a  vessel  of 
two  hundred  and  ninety  tons,  mounting  six  guns,  and 
a  brig  laden  with  rum.  The  Dart  also  had  taken  the 
brigs  Concord,  Hope,  and  Diana. 

The  privateer  Alexander,  Captain  Benjamin 
Crowninshield,  was  a  splendid  18-gun  ship  with  a 
complement  of  one  hundred  and  twenty  men.  She 
was  chased  ashore  May  19, 1813,  by  the  Rattler  and 
Bream.  Previously  she  had  taken  several  prizes,  one 
of  them  the  brig  Edward,  mounting  eight  guns,  from 

414  PEIVATBEES  OF  SALEM.  1813. 

Brazil  for  London,  with  one  hundred  and  eighty 
bales  of  cotton.  This  prize  was  sent  into  Salem. 
The  Alexander  also  seized  a  brig  of  sixteen  guns, 
laden  with  drygoods  and  gunpowder,  and  a  schooner, 
the  latter  being  released  after  the  valuable  portions 
of  her  cargo  had  been  taken  out.  When  chased  by 
the  Rattler  and  Bream,  the  Alexander  was  so  hard 
pressed  that  only  twenty  of  her  crew  were  able  to 
get  ashore;  most  of  her  other  men,  however,  had 
been  detailed  to  man  the  seven  prizes  the  privateer 
had  taken,  so  that  the  number  of  prisoners  was  not 
so  large  as  might  have  been  supposed.  The  Alex- 
ander had  over  one  hundred  prisoners,  who  were  re- 
captured. The  English  managed  to  float  the  priva- 
teer off  and  carried  her  into  Halifax. 

The  career  of  one  of  the  Alexander's  prizes  is  espe- 
cially noteworthy.  This  was  the  French  privateer 
Invincible  Napoleon,  a  vessel  mounting  sixteen  guns. 
She  had  been  taken  from  the  French  by  a  British 
sloop  of  war.  The  Alexander  fell  in  with  the  Invincible 
'Napoleon,  under  her  new  masters,  in  the  English 
Channel,  and  captured  her  after  a  hard  struggle  and 
sent  her  into  Cape  Ann.  On  the  night  of  May  16, 
1813,  while  lying  at  her  anchorage  in  this  place,  the 
Invincible  Napoleon  was  re-recaptured  by  the  boats 
of  the  British  frigates  Shannon  and  Tenedos,  which 
had  gallantly  pulled  into  the  port,  under  cover  of 
night,  and  attacked  her.  The  vessel  was  anchored 
too  far  from  the  fort  to  receive  any  assistance  from 
the  garrison,  so  the  British  succeeded  in  carrying 
her  out.  But  before  the  English  masters  could  carry 
this  unlucky  ship  to  a  place  of  safety  she  was  cap- 
tured by  the  American  privateer  Young  Tcazer,  and 
arrived  at  Portland  about  June  1st.  After  refit- 
ting at  this  place,  the  Invincible  Napoleon  put  to  sea 
for  a  cruise,  under  Captain  P.  Desterbecho,  with 
sixteen  guns  and  sixty  men.  On  August  16, 1814,  the 
misnamed  Invincible  Napoleon  was  captured  for  the 
fifth  time  by  the  British  cruiser  Armide,  after  having 

1812-1815.  THE  NANCY  AND  JPKOJUJXJ.  41  & 

thrown  overboard  ten  of  her  guns  in  the  long  chase 
that  preceded  the  capture. 

The  Salem  privateer  Nancy,  Captain  R  Smart, 
took  the  brig  Resolution,  laden  with  flour,  and  sent 
her  into  Portland,  while  the  Timothy  Pickering,  al- 
though fitted  out  for  the  avowed  purpose  of  seizing 
vessels  evading  the  Non-importation  Law,  made  sev- 
eral valuable  captures.  She  was  a  three-masted  ves- 
sel and  well  appointed.  She  took  the  Eliza  Ann  and 
sent  her  into  Bastport.  The  British  sloop  of  war 
Martin  appeared  of  that  place  soon  afterward  and 
threatened  to  lay  the  town  in  ashes  if  the  Eliza  Ann 
were  not  given  up.  The  people  of  the  place  were  not 
so  easily  frightened,  and,  returning  a  defiant  answer, 
they  awaited  the  promised  attack.  The  Martin  soon 
opened  a  feeble,  ill-directed  fire,  which  the  Ameri- 
cans returned  with  spirit,  and  after  a:  few  shots  in- 
duced the  sloop  of  war  to  withdraw.  The  Timothy 
Pickering  also-  captured  the  brig  Dart  and  sent  her 
into  Salem. 

In  no  other  privateer  from  Salem  was  the  com- 
mand to  "  sink  and  destroy  "  so  well  carried  out  as 
in  the  Frolic,  Captain  Odiorne.  Nearly  all  of  the 
eleven  prizes  taken  by  this  fortunate  vessel  were 
burned  alt  'sea.  Some  of  them  were  the  ship  Reprisal, 
from  Scotland  bound  for  the  Bay  of  Chaleur;  the 
brig  Friends,  of  Bristol  (England),  for  Pictou;  the 
brig  Betsey;  the  galliot  Guttle  Hoffnung,  of  Ports- 
mouth (England);  the  brig  Jane  Gordon,  of  London, 
carrying  eight  guns  and  twenty  men;  and  the 
schooner  Encouragement,  from  Antigua  for  Nova 
Scotia,  having  on  board  twenty  hogsheads  of  sugar, 
twenty  hogshead  of  molasses,  and  five  of  rum.  All 
of  these  vessels  were  destroyed  after  their  officers 
and  crews  and  the  most  valuable  portions  of  their 
cargoes  had  been  transferred  to  the  privateer.  In 
this  way  the  Frolic  soon  became  dangerously 
crowded  with  prisoners,  and  as  a  means  of  getting 
rid  of  them  they  were  placed  in  one  of  the  prizes, 

416  PRIVATEERS  OP  SALEM.  1812-1815. 

the  schooner  Hunter,  and  sent  to  England.  In  the 
same  way  the  prize  schooners  Vigilant  and  Susan  were 
disposed  of.  Two  of  the  Frolic's  prizes  were  of  such 
value  that  they  were  placed  in  charge  of  prize  crews 
and  sent  into  port.  They  were  the  ship  Grotius,  of 
London,  which  was  sent  into  Portland,  and  the 
schooner  Traveller,  which  put  into  Squam.  The 
latter  had  aboard  one  hundred  and  nineteen  hogs- 
heads and  sixty  barrels  of  sugar,  besides  a  quantity 
of  coffee. 

Almost  as  lucky  as  the  Frolic  was  the  General 
Stark,  a  lugger  mounting  only  two  guns  and  manned 
by  twelve  men.  One  of  her  first  prizes  was  a  one- 
hundred-and-thirty-ton  schooner,  from  St.  John's  to 
the  West  Indies,  which  was  sent  into  Machias.  The 
General  Stark  also  took  the  brig  Cossack,  manned  by 
twelve  men,  bound  for  Bermuda  from  Martinique, 
and  having  in  her  hold  one  hundred  and  thirty- 
three  hogsheads,  two  tierces  and  sixty-eight  bar- 
rels of  sugar.  When  the  General  Stark  made  this 
capture  she  had  only  eight  men  aboard,  the  others 
being  absent  in  a  prize.  The  crew  of  the  Cossack  was 
kept  aboard,  while  three  men  and  a  boy  were  sent 
to  her  from  the  General  Stark  as  a  prize  crew,  leaving 
only  four  persons  in  the  privateer.  In  this  critical 
condition  the  two  vessels  made  for  port,  the  Cossack 
arriving  at  Georgetown,  South  Carolina,  without 
mishap.  The  vessel  and  her  cargo  were  valued  at 
four  thousand  dollars.  The  Cossack  was  purchased 
for  five  thousand  dollars,  and  was  commissioned  as 
an  8-gun  privateer,  under  Captain  J.  Nash,  May,  1813. 
The  General  Stark  took  another  prize,  a  sloop,  but 
she  was  lost  on  Cape  Cod. 

By  the  close  of  the  year  1813  the  receipts  from 
the  sale  of  prizes  brought  into  Salem  amounted  to 
$675,695.93.  From  this  time  on,  however,  this  port 
was  rigorously  blocked  by  the  overwhelming  mari- 
time forces  of  the  enemy.  At  the  beginning  of  the 
war  the  New  England  ports  were  peculiarly  free 

1818-1814.  CAPTURES  BY  THE  DIOMEDB.  417 

from  blockades,  the  English  believing  that  those 
States  were  opposed  to  war,  and  consequently  it  was 
good  policy  to  befriend  them.  The  error  was  dis- 
covered after  the  war  had  been  in  progress  a  year, 
and  then  the  British  established  a  rigorous  blockade. 
The  list  of  Salem  privateers  that  had  been  captured 
by  the  enemy  down  to  November,  1813,  includes  the 
schooners  Regulator,  Active,  Enterprise,  and  Cossack, 
and  the  boat  Owl.  New  and  better  vessels  quickly 
supplied  the  places  of  those  that  were  lost  or  cap- 
tured, and  in  spite  of  the  blockade  the  Salem  priva- 
teer managed  to  get  to  sea. 

The  Diomede,  Captain  J.  Crowninshield,  was  one 
of  the  most  successful  privateers  toward  the  close 
of  the  war.  In  a  short  cruise  she  took  six  vessels 
and  brought  thirty-five  prisoners  to  Salem.  Some 
of  her  prizes  in  this  and  subsequent  ventures  were 
the  schooners  Mary  and  Joseph,  Hope,  William,  and 
Traveller,  the  ships  Cod  Hook  and  Upton,  and  the 
brigs  Friends,  Providence,  Harmony,  and  Recovery. 
The  Upton  'was  not  taken  without  a  severe  con- 
test. She  mounted  sixteen  guns  and  had  one  hun- 
dred and  four  men  aboard,  and  although  many  of 
these  were  passengers  they  gave  a  willing  hand, 
and,  taken  altogether,  made  a  formidable  defense. 
They  did  not  surrender  until  one  man  had  been  killed 
and  one  wounded.  After  making  this  long  list  of 
valuable  prizes  the  Diomede  herself,  while  in  a  fog, 
on  June  25,  1814,  was  captured  by  the  enemy  and 
sent  into  Halifax. 

The  little  privateers  Fly,  Viper,  Scorpion,  Leech, 
and  General  Putnam  also  did  good  service  before  the 
war  ended.  The  Fly,  Captain  H.  De  Koven,  took  the 
schooner  George,  laden  with  drygoods,  and  sent  her 
into  port,  and  also  the  sloop  Experiment,  laden 
with  drygoods,  hardware,  and  lumber,  which  ar- 
rived safely  in  Machias.  The  Viper  seized  a  schooner 
that  pretended  to  be  a  Spaniard  but  was  discov- 
ered to  have  a  British  license.  She  was  sent 


into  Newport.  The  Viper  also  took  a  schooner 
with  a  cargo  of  rum  and  sugar,  which  reached 
Newport,  and  another  schooner  laden  with  dry- 
goods,  which  was  sent  into  Salem.  The  Scorpion, 
Captain  J.  Osborn,  seized  a  sloop  mounting  one  gun, 
which  was  sent  into  Salem,  and  a  schooner,  which 
was  destroyed  at  sea.  The  Leech,  in  1814,  captured 
a  schooner  and  ransomed  it,  and  another  schooner 
which,  after  being  divested  of  its  valuables,  was 
given  up  to  the  prisoners.  The  career  of  the  General 
Putnam  was  brief,  but  not  without  value.  She  took 
the  handsome  380-ton  ship  Ocean,  of  and  for  London, 
with  a  cargo  of  masts,  thirty-five  bowsprits,  and 
other  timber  for  the  use  of  the  Admiralty.  She  was 
sent  into  Salem.  Subsequently  the  General  Putnam 
herself  was  captured  by  the  enemy. 

The  last  of  the  Salem  privateers  to  be  noticed 
is  the  Cadet.  This  was  a  singularly  fortunate  vessel. 
Among  her  first  captures  was  the  schooner  Betsey  and 
Jane,  from  St.  John's  for  Castine,  with  one  hundred 
and  nineteen  packages  of  drygoods  valued  at  one 
hundred  and  fifty  thousand  dollars.  She  was  sent 
into  Thomaston.  The  Cadet  also  took  the  schooner 
Mary,  from  St.  John's  for  Castine,  having  a  cargo  of 
drygoods,  with  which  vessel  she  had  a  singular  ex- 
perience. It  seems  that  the  Mary  was  being  escorted 
by  a  heavily  armed  schooner,  and  she  had  not  b